Jussie Smollett's lawyers want to move Chicago lawsuit to federal court


Lawyers for Jussie Smollett want a federal judge to preside over a lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago that seeks to recover more than $130,000 in police overtime costs incurred during the investigation of a fake hate crime police say the "Empire" actor orchestrated.

In a motion filed Wednesday, Smollett's lawyers argue that the actor is a California resident, which justifies moving the city's lawsuit from Cook County circuit court to the federal courthouse in Chicago.

The city filed the lawsuit under then Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who had blasted the actor, saying he made a false report that he had been attacked near his Streeterville home by two men who taunted the openly gay, African American actor with racist and homophobic slurs. Smollett was later charged with making a false police report.

But State's Attorney Kim Foxx's office abruptly dropped the disorderly conduct charges against Smollett in late March, and the city filed a lawsuit against Smollett two weeks later, demanding the actor pay back the money the police spent on overtime for officers involved in the investigation.

Federal court might be a more friendly venue for Smollett, who might still end up facing criminal charges in Cook County after a county judge's decision last month to appoint a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the hate crime case and how Foxx and her staff handled the decision to drop the charges.

The city's lawsuit had been pending in front of Judge James Snyder.

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