Thursday, a judge in Chicago asked to unseal the documents of Empire actor Jussie Smollett’s court case from his arrest earlier this year. At the time Smollett had received an indictment on 16 counts, when he was alleged to have faked a homophobic attack. Despite Smollett’s charges being dropped, Judge Steven Watkins denied that Smollett’s case should not be revealed to the public.
“Smollett voluntarily appeared on national television speaking about the incident in detail,” Watkins stated. “After the March 26 dismissal, he voluntarily stood in front of cameras from numerous news organizations in the courthouse lobby and spoke about the case.”
According to Watkins, someone who wanted to keep the case private would not have spoken so publically: “These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone.” For this reason, the judge deemed it appropriate to remove the protection of an Illinois law in which cases can be removed from public view when the defendant is found not guilty or if claims are dropped.
Brian Watson, Smollett’s attorney, stated that he would check with Smollett before they appealed this ruling. However, according to Deadline, it appears that Smollett’s lawyers might actually want the documents to go public in order to turn public opinion of the actor. The tentative date for this unsealing is June 3rd. Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney, will be in charge of how these documents will be revealed. Despite Foxx’s connection to Smollett’s family, which had caused her to recuse herself from the case originally, she openly declared in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune that she wanted the case to be unsealed for “the interest of full transparency.”
Smollett has additionally been charged with an up to $400,000 lawsuit from Chicago city, made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel who claimed that it was the amount paid to Chicago PD for working overtime in the investigation of Smollett’s case. Now that Mayor Lori Lightfoot is in charge, no word has been made if she will continue with this lawsuit.