With charges dropped against Jussie Smollett, Empire fans are wondering where this might leave the show. Due to the outcry from the Chicago Police Department as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, this has put those in charge of the show in a tricky position. According to Deadline, insider information concerning Smollett’s legal situation claimed that “Things are so unclear and there is a feeling that this isn’t over, that there’s more to come.”
Although he has been relinquished of all 16 felony charges, it seems an investigation is still underway concerning a letter Smollett had received on the Empire set earlier in the year. “The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is working closely with our law enforcement partners on this investigation,” the USPS claimed on Wednesday. “We are unable to provide any additional comment at this time.”
Mayor Emanuel has not been shy about his denouncements in the proceedings of the case. He has blatantly called Smollett’s case an “abomination,” and also insinuated that the State’s Attorney’s decision was special treatment due to the fact that Smollett is considered “a person of influence.” Regardless of the verdict, Emanuel has been vying for proper compensation to the city for the large cost Smollett’s case has incurred. It has been confirmed by CNN that Emanuel has asked Smollett to compensate the city $130,106.15 within a week. In return, Smollett’s attorney rebuffed that it was actually the city that owed Smollett money: “It is the Mayor and the Police Chief who owe Jussie — owe him an apology — for dragging an innocent man’s character through the mud. Jussie has paid enough.”
In addition, the future for the show is also uncertain. Smollett’s character has already been written out of the last two episodes of the 5th season, and now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, now run by Charlie Collier, it is unclear what the future of Empire will hold concerning Smollett’s character. Concerning this new ownership, Fox ran a sizzle reel that included the show Empire last week, so fans can be relieved that show will not be cancelled. Showrunner Brett Mahoney has been a big supporter of Smollett, as have cast members Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard.
Patricia Brown Holmes, Smollett’s attorney, gave a statement concerning what she has called the “smear campaign” against Smollett:
We are disappointed the local authorities have continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett after the charges against him have been dropped. The facts are clear. The Assistant State’s Attorney appeared in court and dismissed the charges. Mr. Smollett forfeited his bond. The case is closed. No public official has the right to violate Mr. Smollett’s due process rights. Mr. Smollett, like every citizen, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Mr. Smollett is entitled to the same Constitutional protections as any citizen charged by the government with a crime— including the right to speak freely about his innocence, the right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the right to hold the State to its burden of proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. None of that has occurred in this case. We respectfully request all government agencies involved live up to the ethical tenants of their office, state and local law, Supreme Court Rules on Trial Publicity as well as the Rules of Professional Responsibility for lawyers and prosecutors. We will not try this case in a court of public opinion. There is no case to try. The case was dismissed. We should all allow Mr. Smollett to move on with his life as a free citizen.
In defense of the court rulings, The Cook County State Attorney’s Office also gave a statement, claiming that they have given thousands of alternative prosecutions within the past two years and that “An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence.”
Smollett has decided to forfeit his $10,000 bond in favor of doing community service.