A judge in Chicago ordered the file in Jussie Smollett’s criminal case unsealed Thursday, saying the actor’s actions did not appear to be those of someone seeking to maintain his privacy.
As a reminder, the “Empire” actor had been charged with 16 counts alleging he lied to police when reporting he’d been the victim of a racist, anti-gay attack in January. Police insist Smollett, who is black and gay, staged the incident because he was unhappy with his salary and wanted publicity.
Prosecutors dismissed all charges, though, with little explanation on March 26.
Smollett’s lawyers had argued that since the case was dropped, Smollett had “the right to be left alone.”
Judge Steven G. Watkins of the Circuit Court of Cook County disagreed.
Apparently hoisted by his own self-promoted pitard; as The New York Times reports, in explaining his ruling, Judge Watkins wrote that Mr. Smollett’s request for privacy was not a good enough reason to keep the records sealed, considering that Mr. Smollett willingly spoke about the situation in detail on national television and in other venues.
“After the March 26 dismissal, he voluntarily stood in front of cameras from numerous news organizations in the courthouse lobby and spoke about the case,” Judge Watkins wrote.
“These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone.”
As AP reports, Natalie Spears, an attorney representing media organizations that wanted the file unsealed, applauded Watkins’ decision Thursday.
“This is about transparency and trust in the system and we believe the public has a right to know what the government did and why,” she said after the hearing.
Speaking outside the courtroom on Thursday, Mr. Watson said that he was unsure whether he will appeal the judge’s decision and that he had to speak with Mr. Smollett before making any next steps.