In late January, news of a hate crime committed against Jussie Smollett first broke on the internet, sending waves of shock and anger nationwide.
The story, as iterated by Smollett, involved two masked men who suddenly attacked the actor in the dead of the night, hurling homophobic and racist insults at him while singing praise for President Trump.
The attackers physically assaulted the actor and even tried to strangle him with a rope but the Chicago Police Department didn’t buy into Smollett’s story. In February, the actor was taken into custody, after being accused of staging the whole thing and filing a false report.
According to the police, the Empire actor paid his attackers — two brothers who coincidentally worked as extras on Empire — a total of $3,500 for the make-believe attack.
As Eddie Johnson, Chicago PD Superintendent alleged, Smollett staged the attack as a publicity stunt to get the public’s sympathy and hence ask for a raise on the show.
Going by what the prosecution initially presented in court, Smollett and his attackers had rehearsed how it would all go down, and the actor even gave them $100 for the rope and clothes they wore during the attack.
However, in an unanticipated move, the prosecution dropped all charges against the actor, in what many would have thought was an open and shut case.
The decision infuriated Superintendent Johnson, and the city’s mayor wasn’t that pleased either. As for the actor, his family, and his lawyers, the move was seen as vindication on Smollett’s part.
For an incident that had generated that much buzz around the United States and indeed the world, the abrupt dropping of charges was bound to raise some eyebrows.
Sheila O’Brien, a retired judge, finds the case particularly concerning and wants to find out exactly why charges against Smollett were dropped, and if her court motions are anything to go by, she is baying for blood.
One of her motions seeks to force Cook County State’s Attorney from engaging public lawyers in the fight that she’s bringing. What’s more, the ex-judge wants the dropped charges investigated by an independent counsel, in addition to having a judge who’s not from Cook County hear her case.
No Place for Public Lawyers
In her brief, O’Brien stated that public lawyers are supported by taxpayers, and they are, in turn, obliged to protect the people and not the state’s attorney’s office.
By this weighty statement, the former judge cemented her stand that tax-supported lawyers had no place in her legal battle.
Should O’Brien have her way, Kim Foxx (the State’s Attorney) would be forced to finance her own legal team, as opposed to using those readily available to her.
The former judge also accused Foxx of blatant lying and sealing court files, as she continued to fight subpoenas.
According to O’Brien, having a Cook County judge presiding over the hearing against the state’s attorney would lead to a conflict of interest, a claim that another Chicago judge has disagreed with.
Either way, the former judge seems pretty relentless in her quest for the truth, and in one of the filings requested the handing over of internal files related to the Smollett case by Foxx accompanied by one of her right-hand deputies in court.