New criminal charges against actor Jussie Smollett do not violate his right against double jeopardy, a Cook County, Illinois judge ruled Friday.
Judge James Linn said the case against Smollett, the former Empire TV star accused of setting up a false claim of assault by two men who uttered racial slurs, will continue.
Smollett claimed to be jumped by two men on the night of Jan. 29, 2019 while seeking to get some food. He claimed the men put a noose around his neck and told him during the assault, “This is MAGA county.”
Subsequent investigations revealed he knew his attackers. As a result, he lost his TV job and has since been largely out of the public eye except for his ongoing legal troubles.
Smollett previously agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and made no admission of wrongdoing in exchange for having 16 charges against him on the phony assault case dropped. The decision to drop the case was controversial and sparked outrage among law enforcement and government officials.
Today, the judge rejected his argument that ongoing prosecution meant he was being tried again for the same crime.
“You cannot have any criminal penalty, whether it’s jail, probation, conditional discharge … none of that can be ordered on the innocent or presumed innocent or the unadjudicated,” Judge Linn said. Double jeopardy is a legal principle that says you can’t be tried twice for the same crime.
Linn also noted Smollett’s new case was brought after another judge, Michael Toomin, ruled that his first prosecution was void because Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx improperly recused herself.
The new case was brought by attorney Dan Webb, whom Toomin appointed as a special prosecutor.
Today’s ruling means Smollett must continue along the legal path, which includes a lawsuit by the City of Chicago, which is seeking to recoup its costs on the investigation of Smollett’s false claims.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.