Judge Michael Toomin ordered Friday that a special prosecutor investigate the controversial decision made earlier this year by State's Attorney Kim Foxx to drop charges against Smollett, the Chicago Tribune reported. The newspaper noted the county's inspector general's office is also investigating Foxx's decision.
Toomin ruled Foxx should have requested a special prosecutor to handle the case after she recused herself in February, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. He said she did not have the authority to recuse herself and then assign the case to her top deputy to handle the case in her stead.
A week after Foxx announced she was recusing herself, police arrested Smollett on a felony charge of disorderly conduct in falsifying a police report. A grand jury subsequently indicted him on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
"There was no duly elected state's attorney when Jussie Smollett was arrested," when he was charged, or when the case was dismissed, Toomin said Friday, according to the Sun-Times. "Ms. Foxx had already affected her recusal."
Toomin said the special prosecutor may charge Smollett "if reasonable grounds exist," WMAQ-TV reported. The Tribune reported others could also face charges as a result of the investigation.
Smollett was arrested in February after authorities said he faked a racist, homophobic attack against himself in downtown Chicago earlier in the year. Prosecutors abruptly dropped the case in March.
The actor had told officers he was confronted in the predawn hours Jan. 29 by a pair of men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him, hit him in the face, poured an unknown substance on him and wrapped a rope around his neck.
Smollett has denied faking the attack. Since charges were dropped against Smollett, police and prosecutors have said they still believe Smollett is guilty.
Authorities continue to investigate.