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Jussie Smollett: Despite ‘Empire’ actor’s objections, judge set on appointing special prosecutor to investigate handling of hate crime case

On Wednesday, an Illinois judge shut down efforts by Jussie Smollett’s attorneys to reconsider his bid to have a special prosecutor investigate how the actor’s high-profile hate crime case was handled.

Though he hasn’t yet appointed a special prosecutor, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin dismissed Smollett’s attorneys’ claims that their client has a reasonable concern that the latest investigation might result in criminal charges. Toomin determined that Smollett’s fears were hypothetical even though the special prosecutor has the power to charge Smollett, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Re-prosecution…may only occur if considerations are met, i.e., reasonable grounds exist to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett,” Toomin reportedly said in court. “Whatever my opinion might be really has no bearing because that is up to the special prosecutor.”

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Smollett, who is openly gay and black, reportedly claimed he was attacked in Chicago by two unknown assailants who shouted homophobic and racist slurs, placed a noose around his neck, and dumped bleach on him. Authorities quickly shifted the investigation’s focus to Smollett himself, after two brothers who knew him, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, reportedly claimed he paid them to stage the alleged hate crime attack.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office faced backlash when they abruptly dropped disorderly conduct charges against Smollett, 37, in late March. The controversy resulted in the release of thousands of documents related to the investigation in addition to the Cook County judge’s announcement that a special prosecutor would be appointed to the case.

WGN reported that Smollett’s legal team has argued that they should have involvement in the upcoming investigation as the actor was set up by the two brothers.

According to the Chicago Tribune, one of Smollett’s attorneys said they are exploring whether they can appeal Wednesday’s decision. It’s currently unclear when Toomin will appoint the special prosecutor.

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[Featured image: Jussie Smollett/zz/Demis Maryannakis/STAR MAX/IPx via AP]