Judge close to naming special prosecutor in Smollett case

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FILE – In this March 26, 2019, file photo, actor Jussie Smollett smiles and waves to supporters before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped in Chicago. An Illinois judge seems close to appointing a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors abruptly dropped charges against Smollett accusing him of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself. A hearing Friday, Aug. 23 will be one of the first opportunities for Judge Michael Toomin to name someone since his surprise ruling in June that a special prosecutor was warranted. Among the options available to a special prosecutor would be to restore charges against Smollett. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

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CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois judge seems close to appointing a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors abruptly dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett accusing him of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself.

A hearing Friday will be one of the first opportunities for Cook County Judge Michael Toomin to name someone since his surprise ruling in June that a special prosecutor was warranted.

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for purportedly orchestrating the incident. A month later, prosecutors dropped all charges with little explanation.

Among the options available to a special prosecutor would be to restore charges against Smollett, who continues to maintain the January incident wasn’t staged.

A former state appellate judge, Sheila O’Brien, petitioned for a special prosecutor, leading to Toomin’s ruling.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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