Judge Maintains Charges Against ‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollett

By Victor Westerkamp

The Illinois Supreme Court has dismissed a motion by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s defense team to throw out the charges against him for allegedly staging his own homophobic and racist attack back in 2019.

The decision came on Friday after Smollett, 37, was charged anew in February with staging the attack against himself. This was the second case against Smollett after an initial lawsuit with 16 charges of disorderly conduct was dropped in November last year.

Another request by Smollett’s attorneys to remove the special prosecutor assigned to his case was similarly dismissed without much comment. The case is now slated to resume on March 18, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The defense requested to have the prosecutor dropped because the successor to the original prosecutor, Kim Knoxx, who was recused from the case, was removed by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin.

Toomin argued Knoxx had forfeited her right to appoint a successor. In contrast, Smollett’s attorneys argued that Smollett was the only one entitled to make an objection, which he didn’t, rendering the whole process unlawful, attorneys said.

“[If] there, in fact, had been a defect in the authority to prosecute Mr. Smollett, the only person who could properly challenge the validity of the proceedings would be Mr. Smollett—and he has not done so,” Smollett’s motion said.

Smollett pleaded not guilty on Feb. 24 to restored charges that accuse him of staging the attack against himself last year in Chicago and falsely reporting to police that the phony attack was real.

His lawyer, Tina Glandian, entered the not guilty pleas on his behalf to six counts of felony disorderly conduct. She also told Judge James B. Linn that she had asked the Illinois Supreme Court to halt the case.

Actor Jussie Smollett (C)
Actor Jussie Smollett (C) departs after an initial court appearance at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago on Feb. 24, 2020. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo)

Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of the charge in the same courthouse last year, just weeks before the Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office abruptly announced it was dismissing the case, angering police and City Hall.

Smollett, who is black and gay, told police that two masked men attacked him as he was walking home in the early hours of Jan. 29, 2019.

Weeks later, police alleged that Smollett had paid two black friends to help stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary as an actor on “Empire,” a Fox series filmed in Chicago that follows a black family as they navigate the ups and downs of the recording industry.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.