Special Prosecutor to Look Into Why Chicago State’s Attorney Abruptly Dropped Smollett’s Case

In this March 26, 2019, file photo, actor Jussie Smollett smiles and waves to supporters before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped in Chicago. An Illinois judge seems close to appointing a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors abruptly dropped charges against Smollett accusing him of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself. A hearing Friday, Aug. 23 will be one of the first opportunities for Judge Michael Toomin to name someone since his surprise ruling in June that a special prosecutor was warranted. Among the options available to a special prosecutor would be to restore charges against Smollett. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

A judge appointed a special prosecutor Friday to look into why the Chicago state’s attorney’s office abruptly dropped the case against Jussie Smollett, leaving open the possibility that the former “Empire” actor could yet face charges in what police say was a phony attack on himself that he staged to get attention.

Smollett, who is black and gay, maintains that he was the target of a racist and homophobic attack in January. But if the special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, determines that the charges shouldn’t have been dropped, he could recommend that they be reinstated or that new charges be brought.

Webb, who was appointed by Cook County Judge Michael Toomin during a Friday hearing, told reporters afterward that he would move the investigation along as quickly as possible. Such probes typically include impaneling a special grand jury, issuing subpoenas, taking witness statements and a final report.

“I intend to expedite everything. But the facts will take me where they take me,” Webb said. “I’m going to start fresh and see where it goes.”

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging the attack and lying about it to investigators. However, it dropped the charges a month later with little explanation, angering city officials and the police.

Source: Associated Press – Michael Tarm

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