The once popular “Empire” star who staged a hate crime against himself and falsely said he was the victim of an anti-gay and racist attack has hit a brick wall with Cook County Circuit Judge Steven Watkins, who has ruled to unseal records in the case.
Smollett’s lawyers argued that since the charges had been dropped their client had the right to “be left alone.” However, the judge decided otherwise given that Smollett had no problem talking to the media about his case throughout the investigation. Smollet had essentially forfeited his right to privacy by talking the media multiple times.
The unsealed document (250 pages) focuses on media organizations that wanted access to the file and Smollett’s legal counsel who fought to keep it sealed.
One key piece of information from the document is that after posting $10,000 bail Smollett was not to have contact with the two brothers he paid to attack him and shout racial slurs.
Watch: Retired Justice Sheila O’Brien made brief remarks regarding the file unsealed.
In March the Smollett case was dropped with no explanation why. Kim Foxx, the Cook County state’s attorney removed herself the case, but text messages released by her office showed that she was involved and had explicitly expressed that Smollett was being treated harshly and unfair.
City leaders, like Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the police superintendent, are frustrated with the lack of transparency in the case. Foxx has been asked to testify in open court, however, the likelihood of that happening is weak.
Why Did Smollett Do it?
In January, Smollett claimed that two men attacked him with a hat and used phrases like, “MAGA County,” and even went as far as placing a rope around his neck and pouring bleach on him. The MAGA country reference is President Trump’s campaign slogan and was supposed to tie Trump and the party to racism.
It was not long before the public realized that one of the men appeared in the “Empire” show. The police arrested Smollet in April and a grand jury indicted him (16 felony counts). Less than a month later all charges were dropped with no explanation as to why.
Smollett was not happy in his acting career and wanted to boost his name recognition and build his public profile.
Marissa Martinez is a political contributor for Accuracy in Media. She is the former political director to Massachusetts Governor’s re-election campaign, alumna of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and political consultant to PACs. Follow her AIM border stories, @MarissaAlisa