This is it.
Jussie Smollett is smokin’.
The actor, once a star of the hit-TV series “Empire,” is making one last attempt to get a city lawsuit against him tossed out of federal court before it proceeds to trial.
Sneed learned exclusively that late Tuesday night, his attorneys filed a motion responding to the city’s claim that he should pay the city more than $130,000 to cover police overtime and other costs. The city says the costs were incurred in connection with an investigation into a report he filed claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in River North. Police later charged Smollett with staging the attack.
Attorneys for Smollett deny the actor made up the attack, and note charges were ultimately dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
“My client from the beginning has maintained his innocence and disputed the city’s allegations,” said William J. Quinlan, of The Quinlan Law Firm, who filed the motion. He noted that “it’s going to be very difficult for the city to prevail in making a case my client should pay for overtime for a case ultimately dismissed by the state’s attorney.
“It’s ridiculous and a stretch to require him to do so.”
But the latest court filing contends even if Smollett did make a false report, there is no way the city can assert he would have known the city would investigate — and investigate it to the extent cops did.
“We contend the city is wrong,” Quinlan said of the city’s assertion that Smollett should have known the police would log nearly 2,000 hours in overtime trying to resolve the case. “ … The mere fact somebody filed a police report doesn’t presume the investigation will be done and certainly not to the extent of what the city is claiming.”
He added: “Smollett has no control over that.”
In the legal brief, obtained by Sneed, Smollett makes clear that he “disputes any and all assertions that he made a false statement and was not a victim of a crime.”
But even if he did, “The filing of a police report, in and of itself, does not necessitate a sprawling investigation nor does it, as a practical matter, usually result in an investigation as extensive as the one the CPD chose to undertake in this case,” the motion says.
It goes on to say the city “has failed to allege that Mr. Smollett was similarly ‘well aware’ that his statements to police would result in 1,836 hours of police overtime, or any other reasons why he should have known this would have been the case.”
Last month, U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall, who is hearing the case, said she will rule in October on whether the city could move forward with its lawsuit to redeem the costs. A status report filed last month in the case said the earliest a trial could take place is in June.
Smollett in Vegas
Smollett, who has always maintained his innocence, has been spending his time traveling between San Francisco and New York, where he has hung out with pals from the Fox series. And he recently spent time with singer Janet Jackson in Las Vegas.
While Quinlan believes the lawsuit should be thrown out, he puts the impetus for its filing not on city attorneys but on then Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
“This lawsuit was only filed by the former mayor … out of frustration for the state’s attorney dismissing the charges,” said Quinlan.
How will this end?
No prediction here.
This case has had more twists than a bag of Twizzlers.