Jussie Smollett's Case File to Be Unsealed and Open to the Public

A Chicago judge ordered Jussie Smollett's case file be unsealed Thursday, making details available to the public for the first time.

Charges against the Empire star included an accusation he staged a racist and homophobic hate crime on himself and paid two brothers to carry it out in Chicago back in January.

The actor denied the accusations from the star, even as he faced multiple felony charges. All the charges were later dropped on March 26, though he is still believed to be under investigation by the FBI, and the city of Chicago previously sued him in an effort to get him to pay the cost of the investigation.

Once the charges were dropped, The Wrap reports, the court approved Smollett's lawyer's request to seal the case, but the records were unsealed Thursday at the request of The New York Times and other news outlets that argued for transparency.

The outlet writes the ruling by Judge Steven G. Watkins of the Circuit Court of Cook County could lead to answers as to why prosecutors chose to drop all charges against the actor.

The news of the case files being released to the public come a few weeks since Fox announced the decision to renew Empire for a sixth and final season. The renewal news also included the update that Smollett's contract had been extended for the final season, though there were no plans for him to return at the beginning of Season 6.

"By mutual agreement, the studio has negotiated an extension to Jussie Smollett's option for season six, but at this time there are no plans for the character of Jamal to return to Empire," Fox Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Television said in a statement to Variety at the end of April.

Ahead of Smollett's final episode of Season 5, in which his character got married and left for his honeymoon, the cast of the popular Fox drama released an open letter asking Fox and show producers to not fire Smollett after the scandal.

"Throughout Empire's five seasons working with Jussie and watching how he has conducted himself throughout this traumatic event, we have come to know not just the character Jussie portrays, but also truly come to know Jussie's personal character. He is kind. He is compassionate. He is honest and above all he is filled with integrity. He is also innocent and no longer subject to legal uncertainty with the criminal charges against him having been dropped. We are confident in his lawyer's assurance that the case was dismissed because it would not have prevailed," The cast, including Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard, wrote in April.

When the announcement of Smollett not returning to the first episodes of Season 6 surfaced, his rep released a statement which read: "We've been told that Jussie will not be on Empire in the beginning of the season but he appreciates they have extended his contract to keep Jamal's future open. Most importantly he is grateful to Fox and Empire leadership, cast, crew and fans for their unwavering support."


Empire will return for its final season in fall 2019 on Fox.