Jussie Smollett heading back to court. But which court?

As Ed discussed yesterday, the city of Chicago was on pins and needles yesterday, waiting to see how (or if) the Jussie Smollett saga would end. Thursday was the deadline the Chicago PD had set for the Empire actor to repay the more than $130K they wasted investigating the supposed hate crime Smollett reported. Well, the day came and went with no sign of Jussie or his attorneys showing up with a checkbook. So now what?

As already threatened, the next step is the lawsuit. Possibly two of them. The city is moving to sue Smollett to recover the money, so this will have to be handled as a civil suit rather than a second criminal case. And Jussie’s attorneys haven’t ruled out suing Chicago in return, either. (CBS News)

Jussie Smollett will soon be facing a civil lawsuit from the City of Chicago, which is demanding the actor pay for the cost of investigating his allegedly made-up story about a racist attack, CBS Chicago reports.

The lawsuit is being drafted by the city’s Law Department and will be filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, spokesman Bill McCaffrey said.

Thursday was the city’s deadline day for the “Empire” actor to reimburse the city more than $130,000 for the cost of the investigation into the alleged racist and homophobic attack that police determined was a hoax.

According to the city’s Law Office, they likely won’t just be seeking to recover the money spent on the investigation. The total bill handed to Smollett could be as high as three times that amount, including damages and court costs. If the case goes against him, the actor may have avoided doing a single day in jail, but it could wind up costing him almost $400,000.

This brings us back to yet another situation that raises questions about these civil suits, and it’s one I’ve been asking since the O.J. Simpson trial. How do you sue someone over the fallout from a crime they allegedly committed without their having been convicted of that crime? Granted, all of us armchair lawyers watching the comings and goings of the Smollett story can sit here and say of course he hoaxed that hate crime. Then again, plenty of us were convinced that The Juice murdered Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend. But he was never found guilty. And thanks to the generosity of the Chicago State’s Attorney’s office, neither was Smollett.

The typical answer from attorneys is that there’s a “lower standard” for evidence in such cases. In a criminal trial, you have to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. But in a civil trial, you need to demonstrate a “preponderance of the evidence.” That’s never seemed terribly fair to me, but I suppose you can’t buck the system.

While all of this is unfolding, the real culprit may turn out to be Kim Foxx, the Chicago State’s Attorney. She’s the one who made all of this disappear on Smollett’s behalf and left the police stuck with the bill. As of last night, multiple associations representing police chiefs around Chicago have voted that they have “no confidence” in Foxx. There have already been multiple calls for her resignation from both police and elected officials, but they seem to be falling on deaf ears. If Chicago’s leaders want Foxx out of office, they may have to remove her themselves.

Jussie Smollett heading back to court. But which court?

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