Special prosecutor again seeking release of full report on handling of the Jussie Smollett case

Skip to content

The team of special prosecutors handling the Jussie Smollett case is again asking permission to release its full report on authorities’ conduct related to the matter.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb intends to go before Judge Michael Toomin on Monday to make the request, court records show. Toomin has twice denied Webb permission to publicly release the full details of his investigation since the report contains information gathered as part of grand jury proceedings, which by law are kept secret. Not even Smollett’s attorneys were allowed to see the complete report.

But now that Smollett has been convicted of falsely reporting to police that he was the victim of a hate crime attack, Webb is trying again, arguing that Toomin appointed a special prosecutor in part to restore public confidence in the court system after Cook County prosecutors’ handling of the matter.

“The trial of Mr. Smollett being complete, it is now appropriate for the seal on the OSP’s Summary Report to be lifted and for it to be publicly available,” Webb wrote in a motion filed Wednesday.

But Smollett has not yet been sentenced, and his attorneys have promised to appeal, meaning the case could be tied up in courts for years to come.

And when Toomin ruled last year that the report should be kept under wraps, he said nothing about doing so to protect Smollett’s trial rights. Instead, he said, much of the information in the report was already available publicly through other sources, and so there was no need to disturb the confidentiality of the grand jury process.

Smollett’s initial charges were dropped at an unannounced hearing in March 2019, not long after the actor’s indictment, and in the days afterward prosecutors gave contradictory answers about why.

Webb was ultimately named special prosecutor and given a two-pronged mandate: determine whether Smollett should be charged again, and investigate whether police or Cook County prosecutors engaged in wrongdoing.

Smollett was charged again in February 2020 and was convicted last week on five of six counts of disorderly conduct.

Meanwhile, in August 2020, the Webb team issued a news release summarizing their investigation into police and prosecutors. They did not find evidence of criminal conduct, but prosecutors including State’s Attorney Kim Foxx acted unethically by repeatedly making false or misleading public statements about the Smollett matter, according to the news release. Overall, their investigation found “substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures” throughout the state’s attorney’s office.