A Chicago judge on Thursday ordered Jussie Smollett’s criminal file to be unsealed, saying the “Empire” actor hasn’t “shown good cause to rebut the public presumption of access,” according to a report.
The ruling by Cook County Judge Steven Watkins comes after he heard oral arguments last week from attorneys over the case file, which was sealed in March, NBC Chicago reported.
Natalie Spears, who represented news organizations seeking the unsealing of the records, said there was no point in keep them secret anymore.
“There is no way to secrete the fact of Jussie Smollett’s arrest. At this point it is widely and publicly known from here to Helsinki and back,” Spears said at the time, according to the Chicago Tribune. “No potential employer, let alone anyone with a pulse, does not know about Jussie Smollett’s arrest at this point.”
Lawyers for the actor, who moved to seal the case after prosecutors’ shock decision to drop criminal charges against him, fought against unsealing the file.
“The root of this problem is not Mr. Smollett,” argued Brian Watson, one of Smollett’s lawyers. “The root of this problem is that the media, Mrs. Spears’ clients, created publicity, and now her clients want to use that against someone who wants to get their rights back.”
The judge’s unsealing order comes amid a separate battle for the appointment of a special prosecutor to probe Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of Smollett’s case.
Smollett had been facing felony charges for allegedly staging a homophobic and racist attack in January.
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