The Chicago judge who ordered the sealing of actor Jussie Smollett’s case file has agreed to consider media attorneys’ request to reverse his decision. But he refused to consider the motion an emergency.
After actor Jussie Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts connected to his allegedly fake claim of a racially-motivated attack on January 29th, many people had to eat crow.
Having staunchly defended Smollett as the bizarre story unfolded, they were forced to rethink their position when the grand jury handed down the indictments.
USA Today reports, “The judge's decision keeps the public in the dark about what prompted the Cook County State's Attorney to drop the charges just days after securing a 16-count indictment against Smollett that alleged he staged an attack by two men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him before beating him and looping a noose around his neck.”
During the days that followed, those who were firmly in the disgraced actor’s corner scrambled to find some justification for continuing to support him. Then came the emergency hearing on March 26th, just days after the indictments came down.
According to USA Today, “City officials, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, blasted the decision to strike a deal with the actor without any explanation. Johnson said that Smollett had chosen to "hide behind secrecy and broker a deal to circumvent the judicial system."
The decision has sparked outrage in the city and across the country. According to the filing by the media organizations, it also "put Chicago's government and our criminal justice system squarely in the spotlight."
Citing first amendment rights to freedom of the press, media organizations also claim that the decision to seal Smollett’s file is harmful, and that "delaying access stifles the flow of information to the public."
Meanwhile, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx spoke out on her decision to drop all charges against Smollett. Foxx emphasized that dropping the charges does not exonerate Smollett.
She said that the decision was merely a pragmatic one because a conviction against the accused was “uncertain” given the nature of some of the evidence. She did not specify which pieces of evidence she was referencing.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Steven Watkins took issue with the Associated Press and other media organizations characterization that unsealing the file was an emergency.
He did agree, however, to schedule motions and arguments over the next several weeks and to render his written decision in late May.