Judge Denies Jussie Smollett's Request To Delay, Attorneys Argue Double-Jeopardy
Chicago, IL – Former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett appeared in a Chicago courtroom Monday morning to be arraigned on six new charges of disorderly conduct for faking a hate crime on himself in January of 2019.
Smollett’s attorneys asked for a delay of the arraignment and told Judge James Linn they had filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him with his court and the Illinois Supreme Court on grounds of double-jeopardy, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Linn declined to delay the arraignment and released Smollett on his own recognizance.
The judge scheduled the next hearing for March 18 and told the actor he was expected to appear in court for hearings during which any substantive arguments would be made, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Smollett’s attorneys have asked the state’s highest court to issue a stay in the criminal case, dismiss the indictment against the actor, and vacate the prior court order that established attorney Dan Webb as the special prosecutor in the case.
They have also argued that the new indictment violates double-jeopardy protections since earlier charges against Smollett were dropped in March of 2019, the Chicago Tribune reported.
WFLD reported that Webb had indicted Smollett on new charges on Feb. 11.
The indictment happened just one month after a Cook County judge ordered Google to turn over copious amount of information from the accounts Smollett and his manager and five months after the special prosecutor began his investigation.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8, 2019 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
But then on March 26, 2019, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
But despite that legal wrangling over dollars and cents, Smollett is not yet in the clear on the criminal charges he initially faced.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin said that Foxx was right to recuse herself from Smollett’s trial after she asked Commissioner Johnson to turn over the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after talking to Tchen, but that she did not have the authority to appoint her second-in-command to the prosecution in her stead, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Texts obtained by public records requests showed that Foxx herself called the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office’s excuse for withdrawing from the case “bulls--t,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Toomin gave the special prosecutor a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
Legal experts have said Smollett’s attorneys are unlikely to make any headway against the charges arguing double-jeopardy as those protections don’t cover defendants until after a trial has begun or a guilty plea has been entered, the Chicago Tribune reported.
But Smollett's attorney said the fact that Smollett forfeited his initial $10,000 bond when the charges were dropped constitutes a potential for double punishment for the same crime, WGN reported.