CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge has vacated the sealing order on Jussie Smollett’s case file, making all the documents public.
Cook County Judge vacates sealing order on Jussie Smollett’s case file @cbschicago
— Megan Hickey (@MeganHickeyTV) May 23, 2019
Cook County Judge Steven Watkins read his 10-page explanation on the decision Thursday, saying that because Smollett voluntarily chose to speak on national television about his case, he waived his argument for privacy. Watkins noted Smollett not only discussed the case on national television before the charges were dropped, but also gave an interview in the courthouse after his case was dismissed, and allowed his attorneys to continue speaking about the case afterward.
Read some of the unsealed documents:
“These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply be let alone. While the Court appreciates that the Defendant 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 records sealed,” Watkins wrote in his 10-page ruling.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said it would review all of the documents in the case and release any previously sealed documents through its Freedom of Information officer.
The records were sealed after prosecutors dropped disorderly conduct charges against the “Empire” actor in March.
CBS 2 and other media outlets asked Judge Watkins to unseal the files, arguing Smollett’s arrest already made news worldwide, and Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the case has raised questions.
Smollett’s lawyers argued state law entitles him to have the case file sealed after the charges were dismissed.
Foxx’s office also requested that the court lift the seal on Smollett’s records, but only so that Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard can use the documents in his review of the case, not so the records would be made public.
Smollett was accused of staging his own racist and homophobic attack and filing a false police report. Just weeks after he was charged, Foxx’s office dismissed the case.
In addition to the inspector general’s review of Foxx’s handling of the case, a retired appeals court judge is seeking a special prosecutor to investigate the Smollett case.
Smollett’s attorney had no comment after the ruling and said he does not know if they will file an appeal.
Chicago police say they have roughly 600 pages of investigatory files they will release by Tuesday at the earliest.
The state’s attorney’s office says they will release their documents by June 3.