A Cook County, Illinois, judge has ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the controversial decision to drop all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett.
Judge Michael Toomin ruled Friday that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx could not legally appoint her top deputy to handle the case in her place after she withdrew from the prosecution. He also said the special prosecutor could bring charges against Smollett if they have “reasonable grounds to believe that any other criminal offense was committed,” Chicago media outlets reported.
Former state appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien has argued that Foxx’s actions created “a perception that justice was not served here, that Mr. Smollett received special treatment.”
The move was opposed by county prosecutors, who said a special prosecutor would duplicate the efforts of the country inspector general’s office, which is looking into Foxx’s controversial decision to drop all charges against Smollett.
Foxx’s office dropped all charges against Smollett at an unannounced court hearing in late March, less than three weeks after he was charged with 16 felony counts related to making a false police report for allegedly staging a phony hate crime attack on himself.
Smollett also faces a lawsuit from the city of Chicago seeking to recoup the cost of police overtime for investigating the matter.
Empire co-creator Lee Daniels tweeted on June 4 that Smollett would not be returning to the hit Fox show.