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A judge has named a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors abruptly dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett that accused him of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself.
Illinois Cook County Judge Michael Toomin's appointment of former US attorney Dan Webb during a hearing raises the possibility that the special prosecutor could bring new charges against the former Empire actor.
County - State - Attorney - Kim - Foxx
County state's attorney, Kim Foxx, said that she will give the special prosecutor her 'full cooperation.' It has been suggested that she mishandled the Smollett case by appointing a top aide to oversee it after she recused herself the case.
Smollett maintains that the January 29 attack — during which he claimed two men beat him, put a noose around his neck and made racist and homophobic remarks — was not staged.
Cook - County - State - Attorney - Office
The Cook County state's attorney's office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly orchestrating the incident.
However, it dropped all of the charges a month later with little explanation, angering city officials and the police.
State - Appellate - Judge - Sheila - O'Brien
A former state appellate judge, Sheila O'Brien, petitioned for a special prosecutor, leading to Mr Toomin's surprise ruling in June that one was warranted.
Mr Webb told reporters after Friday's hearing that he was heading into the investigation with no preconceived notions about an outcome.
'I - Case - Facts
'I don't know where this case is going. The facts will take me where I they take me,' he said.
Mr Webb is arguably Chicago's most high-profile defence attorney of the last few decades and has been asked five times previously to serve as a special prosecutor.
Clients - Illinois - Governor - George - Ryan
His high-profile clients have included former Illinois governor George Ryan.
As US attorney in Chicago in the 1980s, he led the prosecution of several dozen corrupt Cook County judges, lawyers and police officers.
Smollett - Case - Police
Smollett's high-profile case started after he told police he was...
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