State Attorney Kim Foxx Investigated For Ethics Violations In Jussie Smollett Case
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is being investigated for her involvement in the Jussie Smollett case. Smollett was found guilty on Dec. 9 of five counts of felony misconduct after he staged a fake hate crime against himself in 2019 and filed a false police report. Foxx and her office are under review for allegedly violating legal ethics during the trial.
Special prosecutor Daniel Webb released his 68-page report on Monday, which describes ethics code violations on the part of Foxx.
Webb said that the Office of the Special Prosecutor “did develop evidence that establishes substantial abuse of discretion and operational failures by the CCSAO in prosecuting and resolving the Initial Smollett Case.”
Among other indiscretions, Foxx repeatedly told the media from March 2019 to May 2019 that she had ended communication with Smollett’s younger sister when Smollett became a suspect in the case; however, up to five days after she claimed to have ended communication, Foxx sent five text messages to the sister and spoke on the phone with her three times.
Smollett’s sister claims that Foxx told her, “Your brother should be fine as long as he stays consistent.” Foxx has denied saying this.
Smollett, an actor known for his performance on the television show, Empire, paid two men to pose as Trump supporters and to stage an assault against him. Smollett then reported the incident as a hate crime, claiming that the men attacked him for his identity as black and gay. It is believed that he did so in order to increase his fame.
Foxx ultimately recused herself of the Smollett case. Shortly after, all 16 charges against Smollett were dropped. Foxx later said that she was surprised that all counts were dropped, believing that Smollett should admit some culpability. At the time, she said publicly that the case was dismissed because it was similar to thousands of other cases. Webb says that this claim was untrue.
In his report, Webb said, “The fact that such a significant mischaracterization could be asserted without sufficient vetting, repeated by figureheads of the [Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office] and then never corrected or clarified… is unacceptable for an office that must be transparent and maintain public confidence.”
After the initial charges were dropped, retired Judge Sheila O’Brien moved to have a special prosecutor examine the case. The motion was successful, and Smollett was ultimately found guilty of five of the six charges.
“Kim Foxx should resign. This report shows she is a liar, that her administration is in chaos and that she’s blaming everyone else,” O’Brien said. “She should resign. Taxpayers deserve better and Ms. Preckwinkle, her mentor, should take no part in replacing Foxx.”
Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement on Monday evening disagreeing with the allegations against Foxx.
“We respectfully disagree with the OSP’s findings of abuse of prosecutorial discretion,” the statement said. “A prosecutor’s discretion is as broad as any in the law, and differences of opinion as to how a case was handled do not signify an abuse of discretion. Finally, it is important to emphasize that the OSP did not find any criminal activity or undue influence on the part of the State’s Attorney or the CCSAO.”
Webb’s report does not recommend criminal charges for Foxx. However, Webb will refer Foxx and her attorneys to the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) for ethics violations.
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