Last month, Jussie Smollett’s attorneys sought to have a lawsuit filed against their client by the city of Chicago dismissed. The city is seeking $130,000 reimbursement for the cost of the investigation that concluded Smollett was not the victim of a hate crime but had staged a hoax. Smollett’s attorneys argued that even if that were true (which team-Smollett is still not admitting) he had no way to know that filing the report would result in such a massive and expensive investigation. In other words, ‘It’s not my fault you went crazy investigating my hate hoax.’ Today a judge disagreed with that argument and refused to dismiss the case:
In denying Smollett’s motion to dismiss, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said that on its face, Smollett’s claim that the police went overboard in investigating his report didn’t hold up.
“The natural, ordinary and reasonable consequence of a police report like this one — a racist, homophobic physical assault in which masked attackers invoked the President of the United States’ official campaign slogan — is an intensive, sprawling investigation like the one that took place,” Kendall wrote in an 18-page opinion made public Tuesday.
She also pointed out that Chicago police took the allegations seriously in large part because of Smollett’s high profile “and the extreme nature of the accusations.”
“Most crime victims do not have the opportunity to discuss the crime on ‘Good Morning America’,” Kendall wrote.
Smollett’s attorney put a positive spin on the defeat:
William Quinlan, Smollett’s Chicago lawyer, said in an email to USA TODAY that the ruling means the case will be “decided on the facts and not the pleadings.” He said he was not surprised at the decision given that it’s a “very high bar” to get a case dismissed based on the pleadings.
“The pleadings are just the city’s side of the story. Now, Mr. Smollett will get to present his side of the case,” Quinlan said. “Mr. Smollett has always maintained his innocence and is eager to have the complete facts of the case come out. He looks forward to taking depositions and otherwise bringing to light many of the facts that have been overlooked in the court of public opinion to date.
“Mr. Smollett is confident that once the full story is available he will be vindicated.”
Um, okay. I think we’ve already seen the evidence at this point. No one believes Smollett was attacked after midnight in freezing Chicago weather by two white racists who nevertheless were such fans of the black soap opera Empire that they could recognize Smollett on the street, in the dark. But purely as a matter of entertainment value, I look forward to hearing his attorneys offer their best attempt to make sense of all of that.
As it stands now, the case could go to trial next year. This is a civil case so only Smollett’s money is at stake. However, a special prosecutor is still looking at State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s decision to dismiss the 16 felonies Smollett was initially facing. If the special prosecutor decides the dismissal was improper (and there’s some evidence it was) criminal charges could be brought against Smollett.