In a last-ditch effort to get a $130,000 lawsuit filed by the City of Chicago dismissed, the lawyers of Jussie Smollett filed a motion Tuesday night that tries to make the case that even if a suspect files a false police report, as authorities say Smollett has done, that person can't be held liable for the bill of a "sprawling" investigation.
Despite significant evidence indicating that he staged a fake hate crime against himself with the help of two of his acquaintances, who confessed as much to authorities, Smollett and his lawyers have adamantly maintained that he is innocent of all charges and that "every iota" of his claim to police is true. Smollett told authorities he was attacked by Trump-supporting racists who doused him with bleach, assaulted him, and put a rope around his neck, a story he also told the public and his former "Empire" co-stars.
In a 12-page court filing Tuesday night, his legal representatives declared his "innocence" again and accused the city of engaging in a "vindictive" lawsuit. But they also added a new argument.
"This unprecedented civil case was filed simply because former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel disagreed with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s decision to dismiss the false police report charges against Mr. Smollett," Smollett's lawyer William Quinlan said in the motion, as reported by Page Six.
"Mr. Smollett has always maintained and continues to maintain his innocence," the filing asserts. "Yet the City’s claims and purported damages are a vindictive effort to prosecute charges that the State’s Attorney pursued and then chose to drop."
While their adamant insistence on his innocence is nothing new, Smollett's team added a new wrinkle on Tuesday, as pointed out by The Chicago Sun-Times' Michael Sneed. "[T]he latest court filing contends even if Smollett did make a false report, there is no way the city can assert he would have known the city would investigate — and investigate it to the extent cops did," Sneed notes.
"The mere fact somebody filed a police report doesn’t presume the investigation will be done and certainly not to the extent of what the city is claiming," Quinlan argues in the filing. "Smollett has no control over that."
"The filing of a police report, in and of itself, does not necessitate a sprawling investigation nor does it, as a practical matter, usually result in an investigation as extensive as the one the CPD chose to undertake in this case," reads the motion, as highlighted by Sneed, adding: "The City has failed to allege that Mr. Smollett was similarly 'well aware' that his statements to police would result in 1,836 hours of police overtime, or any other reasons why he should have known this would have been the case."
Quinlan makes sure to maintain a sense of optimism about the case, declaring that it's "going to be very difficult for the city to prevail in making a case my client should pay for overtime for a case ultimately dismissed by the state’s attorney," and that it's "ridiculous and a stretch to require him to do so."
The city, which has made clear its determination to follow through on the case abruptly dropped by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, apparently feels otherwise. As for Foxx, two weeks ago, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin appointed a special prosecutor, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, to lead the investigation into how Foxx's office handled Smollett's case.