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Jussie Smollett lawyers: Don’t appoint special prosecutor to probe Foxx’s office

Jussie Smollett | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Attorneys for Jussie Smollett don’t want a special prosecutor to investigate how the Cook County State’s attorney’s office handled the “Empire” actor’s criminal case.

Smollett’s Los Angeles-based lawyers on Thursday filed a motion opposing former state Appellate Court Judge Sheila O’Brien’s request for a court-appointed special prosecutor to probe the abrupt dismissal last month of criminal charges against the actor for allegedly staging a fake hate crime attack near his Streeterville apartment.

Smollett’s lawyers argue that state law does not allow for the appointment of a special prosecutor unless there is a pending case, and Smollett’s case was dismissed on March 26.

“At the time Ms. O’Brien filed her petition… there was no longer a criminal case pending against Mr. Smollett, as this court had already dismissed the case and sealed the records appropriately,” attorneys Mark Geragos and Tina Glandian wrote, adding in a footnote that “our research discloses no cases in which a court has authorized the appointment of a special prosecutor after a case has been dismissed and the records sealed.”

The motion does not mention a separate petition for a special prosecutor filed by Saani Mohammed, who quit his job at the state’s attorney’s office in March. O’Brien also has requested that a judge from a jurisdiction outside Cook County make the call on whether to appoint a special prosecutor.

Smollett’s lawyers also said that a special prosecutor’s investigation would duplicate the efforts of the Cook County Office of the Independent Inspector General, which last week launched a probe of the Smollett case.

“The appointment of a special prosecutor would result in a duplication of effort at the expense of taxpayers,” the petition states.

The petition states that a “judicial investigation” can be costly, pointing to the $31 million or more spent on Robert Mueller’s investigation of allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

Smollett’s records also were ordered sealed at the same hearing where his charges were dismissed, his lawyers state, further complicating any bid to have special prosecutor examine the case.

Both petitions are set for a hearing May 2 in front of Chief Criminal Courts Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr.