In addition to that, the court rejected Smollett’s bid to remove the special prosecutor in the case. The decisions were announced on Friday.
EARLIER: Almost two weeks after being newly indicted on felony charges arising from the alleged fake hate crime attack of January 2019, Jussie Smollett was back in court today, in more ways than one.
Appearing in a Cook County criminal courthouse to plead not guilty this morning, the former Empire star was also pleading with the Illinois Supreme Court to kill the latest charges. The filed motion for a stay and dismissal of special prosecutor Dan Webb’s February 11 move of six renewed charges claims that “the recent Smollett indictment wasn’t proper because the special prosecutor was appointed incorrectly.”
As controversy continued to grow around the assault that Smollett asserted occurred in the early morning of January 29, 2019 and the sudden and seemingly painless dropping of 16 subsequent charges in March of last year by the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, ex-U.S. Attorney Webb was appointed by a judge late last summer – an appointment that never should have been allowed to go forward.
“The circumstances surrounding the initial case in 2019 did not reach the legal level warranting the appointment of a special prosecutor,” lawyer William J. Quinlan and long-time Smollett attorney Tina Glandian stated in the paperwork. “Under the terms of the law, in order to appoint a special prosecutor, the office (of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx) had to file a former recusal with the court,” the motion added, “and that didn’t occur here.”
In fact, at the corresponding appearance Monday in front of Land of Lincoln Judge James Linn, lawyers for Smollett sought to have the pause button hit on the whole arraignment due to the state Supreme Court action. With Smollett and supporters standing there, Judge Linn declined to delay the proceedings, heard the actor who played Jamel Lyon for five seasons on the Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created series enter his plea and told him to be back on March 18.
Essentially fired from the now ending Empire once it appeared all was not as Smollett claimed about the early morning attack, the actor has spent the last year battling ongoing and politically invoked lawsuit from the city itself over the initial Chicago Police Department probe into the claimed hate crime, challenges from the once “persons of interest” Osundairo brothers and the steady release of what were once sealed document and material.
Among those matters, there was also a failed previous legal attempt to have the special prosecutor pink slipped.
Thinking he was free of the potential 50 years in jail from the charges of the first case, Smollett could be looking at a decade or more behind bars from the half a dozen new charges of disorderly conduct if found guilty.
On the small screen, a Smollett-less Empire is back on Fox for its last episodes on March 3.