In a case that made political headlines, actor Jussie Smollett was charged with making false statements to Chicago police about a supposed hate crime he had experienced. But then the Illinois State Attorney's Office for Cook County decided to drop all charges in exchange for Smollet paying a fine and doing community service. This decision attracted further political controversy, but then in August Judge Michael Toomin of the Cook County Circuit Court appointed a special prosecutor, former US Attorney Dan Webb, to investigate the dismissal of charges against Smollet.

My question is, does Webb have the power to charge Smollet again for the same crimes? Or does his jurisdiction only cover wrongdoing by state prosecutors in dismissing the charges against Smollet, not the underlying conduct?

  • 1
    The prior decision, not to prosecute a rather clear case, seems as either incompetence or politically motivated. Either way interesting from political perspective. Moreover issue of hate crime is highly politicised so the same should apply to falsely reported ones.
    – Shadow1024
    Oct 28, 2019 at 10:33
  • While there are definitely political aspects to this case, this specific question is ultimately a legal one and should be asked on Law instead of here
    – divibisan
    Nov 2, 2019 at 16:37

1 Answer 1


Everything mentioned is an option. He can re-charge Smollet, charge the cops/investigators/others for mishandling, or charge Smollet with a new crime if unsavory things happened. Basically, he's a prosecutor, and he can prosecute virtually any crime he sees fit to got to trial.

Per local Chicago news:

A special prosecutor has the power to reinstate charges if it’s determined the original charges against were improperly dropped.


The investigation includes looking into whether Foxx’s calls with a Smollett relative and an ex-aide of former first lady Michelle Obama influenced the decision to drop charges.

Source: Associated Press

  • Seems like the question would be better asked on the Legal site. I would wonder whether Smollet's payment of a fine & doing community service doesn't amount to a de facto conviction, thus invoking the Constitutional protection against double jeopardy...
    – jamesqf
    Oct 28, 2019 at 2:48

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