WATCH: Chicago police union announce no confidence vote on prosecutor Kim Foxx
Chicago just filed a lawsuit against Jussie Smollett to recoup the costs of investigating a fake hoax attack authorities say was orchestrated by the “Empire” actor as a publicity stunt.
The 12-page civil lawsuit , filed in Cook County court, is the latest volley in a legal battle that shows no signs of abating since Smollett reported that masked men beat him up on Jan. 29 in Chicago, shouting slurs and wrapping a rope around his neck.
The city’s resolve to take Smollett to civil court follows a surprising decision by prosecutors in March to drop all criminal charges accusing him of staging the incident, saying they believed they could prove the charges but that it wasn’t worth the time and expense.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel denounced the decision as “a whitewash of justice,” and others criticized the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for not requiring an apology and an admission of guilt from Smollett as a condition for tossing the case.
Emanuel and the city sent a letter to Smollett demanding payment of the $130, 106 they said he owed the city.
But he refused to pay up. His lawyers insisted he was innocent and claimed that was indicated by the dismissal of the charges.
If Smollett doesn’t settle, all the evidence against him is likely to come out. And in a civil suit the required burden of proof is less than in a criminal case where you have to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The jury only has to find him liable by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning it’s more likely than not he did it.
Under the city code, Chicago could triple the amount the city originally demanded that Smollett pay to more than $390,000. If Smollett refuses to pay after a verdict in the city’s favor, his bank accounts could be frozen.
What exactly was agreed to in the dismissal of the charges isn’t clear and that could factor in a civil case. While Smollett admitted no wrongdoing, the city claims they factored in that he did community service. Smollett’s lawyers claim that service was unrelated to the dismissal. He also agreed to forfeit $10,000 in bond money, which the city could use against him in the civil case as an implied admission of guilt.