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Judge close to naming special prosecutor in Smollett case

CHICAGO (AP) — An Illinois judge seems close to appointing a special prosecutor to look into why state prosecutors abruptly dropped charges against actor Jussie Smollett accusing him of staging a racist, anti-gay attack against himself.

A hearing Friday will be one of the first opportunities for Cook County Judge Michael Toomin to name someone since his surprise ruling in June that a special prosecutor was warranted. The Cook County state's attorney's office charged Smollett in February with 16 counts of disorderly conduct for purportedly orchestrating the incident. A month later, prosecutors dropped all charges with little explanation.

Among the options available to a special prosecutor would be to restore charges against Smollett, who continues to maintain the January incident wasn't staged. A former state appellate judge, Sheila O'Brien, petitioned for a special prosecutor, leading to Toomin's ruling.

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