Jussie Smollett’s legal troubles aren’t over yet.
A Chicago judge on Wednesday told the actor’s lawyers that he wouldn’t budge on his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to reexamine the case against Smollett, who was accused earlier this year of paying two men to stage an attack against him.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin also rejected the attorneys’ request for a replacement judge, AP reported. The lawyers had argued that Toomin harbored bias against Smollett and should remove himself from the case.
Toomin’s decisions could mean bad news for the “Empire” actor, who received an outpouring of support in January after claiming two men had cornered him, yelled racist and homophobic slurs and poured bleach on him before placing a noose around his neck. Police, who initially said they were probing the attack as a hate crime, later said their investigation showed Smollett orchestrated the entire episode, paying $3,500 to two brothers he was acquainted with to conduct the attack.
Smollett ― who has maintained his innocence ― was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly faking the assault. But a month after his arrest, prosecutors abruptly dropped all charges against him — a decision that was publicly condemned by Chicago police and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called it a “whitewash of justice.” The city later sued the actor to cover the costs of the investigation.
In June, Smollett’s case took another dramatic turn when Toomin ordered that a special prosecutor be appointed to reexamine the allegations against the actor.
Explaining his decision, the judge said at the time that he believed the Cook County state’s attorney had improperly handled Smollett’s case. Foxx had recused herself from the Smollett investigation because she’d had contact with the actor’s representatives before he was a suspect. But, according to Toomin, instead of asking the court to appoint a special prosecutor as she should have done, Foxx overstepped her legal authority and appointed her deputy to oversee the probe.
Toomin has yet to name a special prosecutor in the case, but as AP noted, a new investigation could mean fresh criminal charges against Smollett.
The actor’s legal team has indicated that it will appeal Toomin’s decisions.
Smollett’s attorney, Tina Glandian, said at a press briefing on Wednesday that the actor was “keeping busy and pursuing his passions” in the meantime, per CNN.