A judge denied a request to dismiss Empire actor Jussie Smollett's criminal case after he allegedly lied to police officers over being a victim of a hate crime in January 2019.
Smollett's attorney said the judge was infringing on the actor's rights because he had already paid a $10,000 bond and performed community service under a deal made by a different prosecutor. However, Judge James Linn of the Circuit Court of Cook County noted in Friday's decision that a different prosecutor hired by a different judge is now pursuing the case against Smollett.
In 2019, Smollett told police officers that he was attacked by two white men shouting racist and homophobic epithets at Smollett, who is black and gay. But several weeks later, he was charged with one felony count of lying to authorities after the officers uncovered evidence purportedly indicating the attack was staged. He pleaded not guilty.
Smollett was then indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of lying to authorities, which his attorney said was “prosecutorial overkill.” After State Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself from the case, the Cook County State Attorney's Office dropped all charges against him, prompting a judge to approve a special prosecutor to investigate the decision-making process in June 2019. In August 2020, that special prosecutor concluded Foxx abused her discretionary power in dropping Smollett's case, allowing the reopened matter to proceed.
Jury selection will start on Nov. 29.
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