Judge To Appoint Special Prosecutor To Jussie Smollett Case; Prosecutor Could Reinstate Charges – CBS Chicago
CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge has ruled a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case. That proecutor would be allowed to bring new charges against the “Empire” actor if there are “reasonable grounds” to do so.
While Judge Michaael Toomin said Foxx’s contact with a relative of Smollett’s before he was charged did not rise to the level of a conflict of interest, he said she had no authority to appoint her top deputy, First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, to oversee the case after announcing she was recusing herself. He said Foxx effectively appointed Magats to a “fictitious” office to serve in her stead.
“There is no office of acting state’s attorney,” he said.
Foxx previously said she recused herself from the case after having conversations with one of Smollett’s relatives before he was charged with disorderly conduct for allegedly faking a hate crime against himself.
After Magats took over the case, and prosecutors ended up dropping all charges a month after Smollett was arrested, after the “Empire” actor performed 16 hours of community service, and agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bail, but did not admit guilt.
Hundreds of emails and text messages later released by Foxx’s office showed two weeks before the charges were dropped, Foxx texted her staff, dismissing him as a “washed-up celeb who lied to cops,” and telling them he was being charged too harshly.
Critics have said, had Foxx truly recused herself of the case, it would have been handed over to a state’s attorney from a different county.
Retired appellate court judge Sheila O’Brien later requested a special prosecutor to look into Foxx’s handling of the case.