Is ‘Empire’ Actor, Jussie Smollett In Legal Trouble Again?

Jussie Smollett
Jussie Smollett | Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

Jussie Smollett has once again found himself smack dab in the middle of a news story. The 36-year-old actor, most commonly known for playing Jamal Lyon on Fox’s hit show, Empire, has been making headlines for entirely, different, reasons for the past several months.

In February, Smollett was indicted for faking a hate crime against himself and filing a police report with false information. The actor maintained total innocence and when all charges were dropped in late March, we thought we’d heard the last of the case. But, new legal action has brought the case firmly back into the spotlight. On Thursday, May 24, 2019, a judge ordered the criminal case filed against Smollett be unsealed and released to the public.

Why was the case unsealed

Dropping the charges against Smollet caused outrage within the media and Chicago’s government. Former Mayor Rahmn Emanuel was a harsh critic of the prosecutor’s decision to drop the charges saying that it was a “whitewash of justice” and was a direct result of Smollett’s fame. Following the charges being dropped, the media (led by Chicago Tribune Attorney, Natalie Spears) applied legal pressure demanding that the criminal records be made available to the public.

“The media filed a motion to intervene in the Smollett case to make sure that the public got access to records. The judge granted our motion today and we applaud that order. This is about transparency and trust in the system. We believe that the public has a right to know what the government did here and why.” Spears said, commending the judge for his decision.

A plea for privacy

Though Smollett’s legal team fought to keep the records sealed, their efforts were fruitless. Citing privacy as the main reason for keeping the records sealed, their argument proved to be baseless due to the Smollett’s behavior. As the actor has made several public appearances to declare his innocence, including an exclusive interview on Good Morning America, Judge Steven Watkins ruled in favor of the media.

Reading his 10-page ruling aloud to the court, Judge Watkins reflected on Smollett’s behavior in dealing with the case. He stated “These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone. While the court appreciates that Smollett was in the public eye before the events that precipitated this case, it was not necessary for him to address this so publicly and to such an extent. By doing so, the court cannot credit his privacy interest as good cause to keep the case records sealed.”

When will we know more

Thus far, very little information has been released about the criminal case, but more documents are expected to be made accessible to the public very soon. The Chicago Police Department has reported that they have over 600 pages of investigative files to release, which could be made available as early as June 3.

What’s next for Smollett

But what does this mean for Smollett, who has yet to comment on this recent development? We’ll have to wait and see if any additional legal action is taken against him. However, what we do know for certain is that this entire situation has been detrimental to his career.

Due to his legal issues, the actor is not expected to reprise his role as Jamal Lyon on the sixth and final season of Empire. We can only hope that the information that is being released will shed some much-needed light on what really happened last January.