It was just about a year ago that actor Jussie Smollett was charged for allegedly staging a fake homophobic, racist, and politically-motivated “hate crime” on himself in Chicago. Shortly afterward, the charges were dismissed by State Attorney Kim Foxx, a move that sparked controversy and led to a judge appointing a special prosecutor to review the case.
The special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, has now brought six new felony charges against Smollett related to the 2019 incident. On Monday, Smollett pleaded not guilty to all six charges in a Chicago courthouse, Breitbart reported.
Smollett pleads not guilty
Tina Glandian, Smollett’s lead attorney, entered the not guilty plea on behalf of her client during a hearing on Monday in front of Judge James Linn while also noting that she’d filed a motion to halt the case from proceeding any further.
The attorney argued that the refiled felony charges constituted double jeopardy since the indictments were a rehash and second attempt at holding Smollett accountable for the same crime he’d previously been charged with.
However, prosecutors and the judge made clear that the refiled charges were not an example of double jeopardy since Smollett had never actually faced prosecution on the initial filing of charges.
Smollett has maintained that he did not lie about being attacked by two masked strangers.
The judge ultimately accepted Smollett’s plea and released him on his own recognizance while setting March 18 as the next date for him to appear in court in the case.
New charges refiled as part of special review
According to the Associated Press, Webb was appointed by a judge in August of 2019 to look into why the Cook County prosecutor’s office dropped the initial charges against Smollett in March 2019.
While that review appears to still be ongoing, Webb refiled six charges of disorderly conduct against Smollett for allegedly filing four separate false police reports about the supposed “hate crime” that appears to have been planned and perpetrated on himself.
Meanwhile, Webb is also reportedly investigating alleged contact during the initial proceedings that occurred between Foxx and one of Smollett’s relatives as well as an aide of former first lady Michelle Obama, not to mention the fact that Foxx continued to weigh in and make decisions on the Smollett case even after she had supposedly recused herself.
In a statement issued along with the new felony charges, Webb said that it was “in the interest of justice” that Smollett was being charged again.
He highlighted a number of questions that remained unanswered from the first go-round, such as the effort to hold Smollett accountable for the law enforcement resources expended to investigate the fake crime, the alleged special treatment Smollett received as a minor celebrity, and why the initial charges had been dropped with no real explanation.