CHICAGO (CelebrityAccess) — Jussie Smollett’s legal woes appear to be ongoing after a Cook County judge on Friday appointed a special prosecutor to look into the circumstances around the sudden dismissal of all charges against Smollett earlier this year.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Judge Michael Toomin ruled on Friday that while State’s Attorney Kim Foxx had the right to withdraw herself from overseeing Smollett’s prosecution, she had no legal authority to designate that responsibility to her deputy, meaning that the Smollett case was effectively conducted without an effective prosecutor in the lead.
“There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters, and it ultimately lost its bearings,” Toomin wrote his opinion, per the Tribune. “The unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrants the appointment of an independent counsel to restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system.”
The ruling is bad news for Smollett and opens the door to charges in the case being refiled against the former “Empire” actor.
Smollett became a center of controversy after he claimed he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack. However, his story quickly unraveled in the ensuing criminal investigation and he was charged with disorderly conduct in February, with police alleging he paid two men to stage the attack in an apparent publicity stunt.
However, in a surprising turn of events, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx three weeks later announced that charges against Smollett had been dropped. Foxx had previously announced she had recused herself from the case after communicating with a member of Smollett’s family, but later qualified that recusal, noting that it was “in the legal sense,” which would have precluded her from any involvement with the case.
Judge Toomin appeared not to agree with Attorney Foxx’s understanding of the recusal process.
“What was intended by Ms. Foxx, and what indeed occurred, was an unconditional legal recusal,” the judge wrote in his ruling, per the Tribune. “… Essentially, she announced that she was giving up all of the authority or power she possessed as the duly elected chief prosecutor; she was no longer involved.”