Lawyer for Jussie Smollett Answers Chicago’s Demand of $130K, Says Actor ‘Will Not Be Intimidated’

Megan Creneau, Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2019

If the city follows through on threats to sue Jussie Smollett, the “Empire” actor’s attorneys would insist on deposing Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson and other key players in the whirlwind legal saga, according to a letter from Smollett’s legal team obtained by the Tribune.

“In light of their apparent vested interest in the matter, we are confident that Mayor Emanuel and Superintendent Johnson will not object to providing their testimony under oath,” attorney Mark Geragos states in the letter, which was addressed to the city’s corporation counsel and dated Thursday.

“Mr. Smollett’s preference remains, however, that this matter be closed and that he be allowed to move on with his life.”

A lawsuit would be the latest legal problem for Smollett, who found himself at the center of an international media firestorm this year when he was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself.

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The city notified Smollett’s attorneys by letter two days later of its demand that he pay $130,106 — the cost of the police overtime hours expended in the investigation into his allegations. The letter warned that if Smollett did not pay by Thursday, the city might sue.

In response, Geragos wrote that Smollett “will not be intimidated into paying the demanded sum.”

“Mr. Smollett vehemently denies making any false statements,” the letter reads, echoing the actor’s public assertions of innocence last week after charges were dropped. “Your claim that Smollett filed a false police report and orchestrated his own attack is false and defamatory.”

If the city files suit, the letter states, Smollett’s attorneys would demand to see all the evidence from the criminal case, including that which was not turned over to the defense before charges were dropped, and the legal team would ask that all records and legal proceedings be open to the public.

Apart from Emanuel and Johnson, the defense also would want sworn testimony from the two brothers who told authorities they helped Smollett stage the attack, as well as their attorney and her husband.

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Attorneys plan to pursue “the full measure of damages” allowed by city law, according to McCaffrey’s statement.

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