Jussie Smollett's lawyer threatens to depose Rahm Emanuel if Chicago lawsuit goes forward

Jussie Smollett.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jussie Smollett's lawyer is pushing back as Chicago prepares a civil lawsuit, saying he will demand Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others be deposed if it goes forward.

After the Empire star did not meet the city's demand that he pay $130,000 in reimbursement for their investigation, Chicago's Law Department on Thursday said it is preparing a lawsuit against him. Smollett had said in January he was the victim of a hate crime, but police subsequently concluded that Smollett staged the attack himself. All charges against Smollett were later dropped, however, and he has continued to maintain his innocence.

In a letter, Smollett's attorney Mark Geragos says the city of Chicago is attempting to "harass and irreparably injure" him, saying he will "not be intimidated" into paying for the investigation, per The Chicago Tribune. Geragos called the lawsuit threat "unprecedented" and "unconstitutional" and accused the city of making it "maliciously and in bad faith." Should the lawsuit go forward, Geragos also said he will demand deposition from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, and the two brothers who police said Smollett paid to orchestrate the attack.

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Emanuel and Johnson have both blasted prosecutors' decision to drop charges against Smollett, with Emanuel calling it a "whitewash of justice" and repeatedly saying in interviews that Smollett is guilty of orchestrating the attack. First Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats has said he still believes the actor is guilty. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx defended the decision to drop the charges in a Chicago Tribune op-ed, saying "specific aspects of the evidence and testimony" would have "made securing a convention" uncertain but that his "alleged unstable actions have probably caused him more harm than any court-ordered penance could."

Fox has not yet commented on Smollett's future on Empire, although star Taraji P. Henson on Thursday suggested he will return to the show.

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Brendan Morrow

Brendan is a staff writer at The Week. A graduate of Hofstra University with a degree in journalism, he also writes about horror films for Bloody Disgusting and has previously contributed to The Cheat Sheet, Heavy, WhatCulture, and more. He lives in New York City surrounded by Star Wars posters.