The Illinois Supreme Court rejected former Empire actor Jussie Smollett's request to drop the renewed charges against him in connection to the Jan. 2019 staged homophobic and racist attack. In the Friday ruling, the court also rejected the actor's bid to remove the special prosecutor in the case.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the actor's attorneys argued in an emergency motion that Cook County Circuit Judge Michael Toomin overstepped his authority and misinterpreted the law when he ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor last year. They argued that the statute Toomin cited to appoint a special prosecutor can only be invoked if the state's attorney filed a formal petition for recusal, which never happened.
"(If) there, in fact, had been a defect in the authority to prosecute Mr. Smollett, the only person who could properly challenge the validity of the proceedings would be Mr. Smollett — and he has not done so," the motion states in part, Smollett's attorneys going on to argue that the state Supreme Court should throw out the order appointing a special prosecutor as well as the charges against the actor.
The court, however, rejected the motion without explanation, and Smollett is set to next appear in court on Wednesday, March 18.
After facing charges last year that were later dropped, special prosecutor Dan Webb confirmed in February that a Cook County grand jury had returned a six-count indictment of disorderly conduct. The indictment charges the actor with making four separate false reports to Chicago Police Department officers "related to his false claims that he was the victim of a hate crime, knowing that he was not the victim of a crime."
Responding to the new charges at the time, Smollett's attorney, Tina Glandian, said that the "indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation."
"After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett," Glandian's statement to Entertainment Tonight read in part. "Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State's Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice."
Smollett made his first court appearance in connection to the new indictment on Feb. 24. He pleaded not guilty to all charges. A $20,000 personal recognizance bond was set at the time. He is scheduled to again appear in front of a Cook County judge on March 18.