CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge will hear arguments Thursday on requests to unseal court documents in the Jussie Smollett case, nearly two months after prosecutors dropped charges accusing him of orchestrating a hoax hate crime.
Attorneys for several media outlets requested that the case be unsealed after Cook County prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct charges against the “Empire” actor in March. A judge had granted a motion to seal the case after prosecutors dismissed the charges, prompting the Chicago Police Department to refuse requests for investigative reports.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx also has filed a motion to unseal the case so that the Cook County Inspector General’s office can proceed with an investigation into her handling of the case, but her motion would only provide the records to Inspector Genral Patrick Blanchard.
Judge Steven Watkins has scheduled a Wednesday hearing for arguments on the motions to unseal court records, and has said he will rule on May 23.
Meantime, another judge on Friday will hear a request for a special prosecutor in the case. Presiding Criminal Court Judge Leroy Martin transferred that request to Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Michael Toomin, after retired appeals court judge Sheila O’Brien raised questions about a potential conflict of interest, because Martin’s son works for Foxx’s office.
Cook County prosecutors have argued O’Brien’s request that Martin recuse himself was just an effort to distract from a flawed request for a special prosecutor.
Foxx’s office has opposed O’Brien’s request for a special prosecutor, saying she has already invited the Cook County inspector general’s office to review her actions in the Smollett case.
Smollett was accused of staging his own racist and homophobic attack and filing a false police report. Just weeks after he was charged, Foxx’s office dismissed the case.