opening it up
May 23, 2019

A Chicago judge has just ordered the unsealing of Empire star Jussie Smollet's criminal case file, NBC News reports.

Judge Steven G. Watkins said on Thursday that although Smollett's lawyers had argued the court documents should remain sealed to protect Smollett's privacy, this is inconsistent with Smollett's decision to speak publicly to the media about the case after the charges against him were dropped. "These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone," CNN reports.

Watkins also said that the "court cannot credit his privacy interest as good cause to keep the case records sealed." It remains unclear when the Smollett case file will be made publicly available, as multiple media outlets had been requesting.

Smollett in January claimed he was the victim of a hate crime, telling police that two men attacked him in Chicago. After an investigation, police accused Smollett of orchestrating the attack against himself because he was dissatisfied with his salary on Empire, and he was hit with criminal charges. But in March, those charges were suddenly dropped. Numerous questions remained about what led to that stunning turn of events, but the case file was sealed. Now that they've been ordered unsealed, once the documents are released, this could help elucidate prosecutors' decision to drop the charges, The New York Times notes.

Smollett has continued to maintain his innocence, saying that he only paid the two men who attacked him for personal training but not to help orchestrate the attack. After the charges were dropped, Chicago police and then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the decision, with Emanuel saying the situation is "making a fool of all of us." Brendan Morrow

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