Former Empire star Jussie Smollett’s attempt to have the criminal charges against him dropped were tossed out by a judge in Chicago on Friday. The Judge dismissed the actor’s claim that the fresh charges against him violate his right against double jeopardy.
In February, Smollett was indicted by a special prosecutor on fresh charges of filing false police reports falsely claiming he was the victim of a violent hate crime attack by supporters of President Donald Trump. The indictments were announced months after the original 16 counts of disorderly conduct against him were abruptly dropped in a move that sparked widespread outrage.
On Friday Smollett’s defense attorneys contended that since he had already completed 16 hours of community service and forfeited his $10,000 bond from the original case, he had already served his punishment. However, Cook County Judge James Lin dismissed this argument, ruling that as Smollett’s original case never went to trial, the fine and community service do not cover double jeopardy.
“There was no trial in this case, there was no jury empaneled, no witnesses were sworn, no evidence was heard, no guilty pleas were ever entered … nothing like that ever happened,” said Linn. “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.”
Linn also pointed out how Judge Michael Toomin had ruled the original case against Smollett was void after determining Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx improperly recused herself from the investigation and had no authority to appoint a top deputy to take over the case for her.
Smollett, who is both black and gay, told authorities he was attacked by two masked men shouting racist and homophobic slurs as they assaulted him, placed a noose around his neck, and poured an unknown chemical on him. However, police investigations of the incident found that in reality, Smollett had paid two men, Ola and Abel Osundairo, $3,500 to stage the attack after he grew “dissatisfied” with his salary from Empire.
Nevertheless, Smollett maintains his innocence and will continue to plead not guilty. His next court date is scheduled for July 17th.
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