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Chicago judge orders unsealing of records in Jussie Smollett case


ABCA Chicago judge has ruled to unseal the documents in the criminal case of Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who claimed he was victim of a hate crime in January that police later alleged he staged.

The records were sealed in March following the case against Smolllett being dropped by prosecutors.

Cook County Judge Steven Watkins ordered on Thursday that the formal sealing of Smollett’s investigative files are to be lifted.

Smollett’s team argued that the Empire actor had the right to privacy since the charges against him were dropped, and he was entitled to the immediate and permanent sealing of the police, prosecuting and court records.

However, the judge disagreed, saying Smollett’s actions, including his interview with Good Morning America in February “are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone.”

“The defendant has not shown good cause to rebut the…presumption of public access,” the judge concluded.

The unsealed records are expected to be released at some point Thursday.  As of Thursday afternoon it wasn’t know if Smollett would appeal the ruling.

Chicago police allege that Smollett paid brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo to help him stage an attack on himself January 29. The maintained his innocence, but he was subsequently charged with 16 counts of disorderly conduct related to the allegedly false attack.  The charges were later dropped in exchange for the actor forfeiting his $10,000 bond, and the case records were sealed.

The City of Chicago later demanded that Smollett reimburse them for $130,000 to offset the cost of the investigation, but he has not.  The city is now suing him for that money.

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