Jussie Smollett update: Judge rules to unseal records in 'Empire' actor's case

ByJohn Garcia via WLS logo
Friday, May 24, 2019
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A judge has ordered prosecutors and police to unseal documents in the case of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

CHICAGO -- A judge ordered prosecutors and police to unseal documents in the case of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett on Thursday.

The records were sealed in March shortly after charges against Smollett were abruptly dropped by prosecutors. Attorneys representing the media, including ABC7, challenged the sealing of the records.

WATCH: Timeline of key moments in Jussie Smollett case

As a result, nearly 300 pages of court filings were released by the Cook County State's Attorney's office on Thursday.

"This is about transparency and trust in the system and we believe the public has a right to know what the government did here and why," media attorney Natalie Spears said.

READ: Judge's ruling to unseal documents

The judge said Smollett might have been entitled to privacy and keeping the records sealed if he hadn't given a nationally-televised interview about the incident on "Good Morning America."

WATCH: Jussie Smollett gives emotional interview on 'Good Morning America'

"These are not the actions of a person seeking privacy. It was not necessary for him to address this so publicly and to such an extent," Judge Steven Watkins wrote.

WATCH: Jussie Smollett on 'Good Morning America': 'I'm pissed off'

The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has long been critical of how the state's attorney handled the case.

"We at FOP have done our part to make sure that justice and the light of justice has been shown on this case," said Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx released a statement saying she supports unsealing the records and that her office plans to release more material related to the investigation next week.

While there is little new in what was released by the state's attorney's office Thursday, Chicago police said they have more than 600 pages of evidence as well as videotape and other physical evidence. They plan to release what they can next week.

RELATED: City sues Jussie Smollett for cost of investigating alleged staged attack

The "Empire" actor faced several charges for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January.

The TV actor claimed he was the victim of a vicious hate crime in the Streeterville neighborhood on January 29. He said two men physically attacked him while yelling racist and homophobic slurs, threw a chemical liquid on him and looped a rope around his neck.

Two days after the alleged attack, Chicago police released surveillance images of two people they said they considered persons of interest in the attack.

But the investigation turned on Smollett. He was accused of allegedly orchestrating the attack with the Osundairo brothers, who he knew. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.

Prosecutors said Smollett paid the brothers to pull off the staged attack.

Smollett had also reported a threatening letter sent to him on the "Empire" set containing a white powder, a week before the alleged attack. The letter is currently in the FBI crime lab for analysis, sources said, and experts believe Smollett could face federal charges for allegedly sending the letter.

All charges against Smollett were dropped in late February in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.

Smollett has maintained his innocence. The City of Chicago is suing the actor for the costs of the investigation and damage to the city's reputation.

Previous coverage:

Judge asked to recuse himself will not; other judge will rule on special prosecutor

Judge asked to recuse himself from petition to appoint special prosecutor in 'Empire' actor's case

Jussie Smollett: 'Empire' actor's contract extended, no plans for character to return

Jussie Smollett News: Osundairo brothers file defamation lawsuit against 'Empire' actor's attorneys

Kim Foxx receives death threats after Jussie Smollett charges dropped

Kim Foxx texts show she thought number of Jussie Smollett charges 'excessive'

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handled

Jussie Smollett update: City sues 'Empire' actor for cost of investigating alleged staged attack

Jussie Smollett attorney responds to Chicago's civil suit threat

Chicago to file civil suit against 'Empire' actor for not paying $130K cost of police investigation

In wake of Jussie Smollett, suburban police chiefs take no confidence stance against State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett case leads to protests for, against Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett update: Thousands referred for alternative prosecution by Cook County prosecutors haven't completed process

Jussie Smollett update: City of Chicago asks Jussie Smollett to pay for $130,000 cost of investigation

Jussie Smollett update: What's inside the CPD investigative file?

Jussie Smollett update: FBI reviewing circumstances of Jussie Smollett's charges being dropped, sources confirm

Jussie Smollett update: Charges against 'Empire' actor dropped; 'not an exoneration,' prosecutor says

RELATED: Mayor Emanuel calls decision to drop charges against Smollett 'whitewash of justice'

RELATED: Charges dropped against 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett

RELATED: Osundairo brother at center of Jussie Smollett case compete in Chicago boxing match

RELATED: Jussie Smollett update: 'Pain and anger' around 'Empire' in recent weeks, Lee Daniels says

RELATED: FOP accuses Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx of interfering in Jussie Smollett investigation

RELATED: Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to disorderly conduct charges

RELATED: Jussie Smollett update: Texts shed light on why State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself

RELATED: Jussie Smollett appears in court for hearing; Cameras allowed for Thursday hearing

RELATED: Jussie Smollett update: Brothers 'taken advantage of' by Smollett, attorney says

RELATED: Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts by grand jury

RELATED: Brothers reportedly involved in Jussie Smollett alleged hoax release statement expressing 'regret'

RELATED: Jussie Smollett's check to brothers obtained by ABC News

RELATED: Jussie Smollett's character to be removed from 'Empire', producers say

RELATED: What's next for Jussie Smollett? Possible big police bill

RELATED: Jussie Smollett alleged hoax may cast doubt on real hate crimes, advocates fear

RELATED: Jussie Smollett out on bond after being accused of staging attack

RELATED: Jussie Smollett charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report, prosecutors say

RELATED: Cook Co. State's Attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself from Jussie Smollett investigation

RELATED: Brothers told police Smollett was upset threatening letter didn't get enough attention, staged attack

RELATED: Activist calls for Smollett's arrest, believes actor lied about attack

RELATED: Brothers tell police that Jussie Smollett paid them to stage attack, official says

RELATED: Sources: Police investigating whether Smollett staged attack with help of others

RELATED: Timeline of key moments in alleged attack on Jussie Smollett

RELATED: Jussie Smollett breaks silence on Chicago attack

RELATED: 'Empire' actor's family releases statement on attack, pictures of possible persons of interest released

RELATED: Photos show potential persons of interest in 'Empire' actor attack, police say

RELATED: 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett attacked in Chicago in possible hate crime, police say

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