Prosecutor in Jussie Smollett case committed “substantial abuses of discretion,” investigation finds
By Cassie B. // Aug 19, 2020

A special prosecutor looking into how Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx handled the investigation of the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax has found that she committed "substantial abuses of discretion” and that the way she dismissed charges was a “major failure."


Last year, Smollett, who appeared on the TV show Empire, claimed he was attacked by two men who poured bleach on him, put a noose around his neck and beat him up in downtown Chicago while making homophobic and racist remarks and saying, "This is MAGA country." After a weeks-long investigation, Chicago police found that he invented the attack, and he was subsequently arrested and charged with fraud. Investigators on the case determined that he paid two brothers, who were his personal trainers, $3,500 to perpetrate the fake attack to boost his public profile in hopes of improving his salary on the show.

Even though the two brothers testified in front of a grand jury ahead of Smollett’s arrest, Foxx inexplicably dismissed the case and dropped all charges against Smollett.

Dan Webb was enlisted to lead a special investigation into Foxx’s actions. He and his team carried out 53 interviews and looked over more than 120,000 pages of documents, audio recordings and text messages. Although he did stop short of saying that Foxx broke any laws, Webb found that her actions were dubious and possibly unethical.

For example, Webb uncovered records that showed Foxx continued discussing Smollett’s case with his sister, Jurnee, eight times after she claimed publicly that she had cut off contact with the Smolletts when it became public knowledge that the Chicago police were planning to charge him with a crime.

In the 60-page report, which has not been made public because it also contains grand jury information, Webb also took issue with Foxx claiming she needed to recuse herself from the case because she knew potential witnesses and then appointing an acting state’s attorney to be in charge. The correct course of action would have been asking a judge to appoint an outside lawyer as a special prosecutor; by keeping it within the State's Attorney's Office, she could still influence the handling of the case.

She then made false statements to the media regarding what she knew about this matter. Webb said that her actions may be a violation of legal ethics related to false and/or misleading public statements.

In February, Webb had Smollett indicted again; he entered a not-guilty plea to the six-count indictment and his lawyer said he would be fighting the charges. He is also facing a federal lawsuit in which the city of Chicago is attempting to recover the $130,000 spent on investigating his case. His attorneys, meanwhile, are facing a defamation suit filed by the brothers Smollett hired to fake the attack.

Foxx heavily criticized for being soft on crime

Yesterday, on the same day the special prosecutor reported on her office’s "substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures,” the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office announced that Foxx will be stepping back from political activities in light of her husband’s recent prostate cancer diagnosis. She’s currently running for a second term as state attorney against Republican Pat O’Brien.

Foxx has long been facing charges she is soft on crime, with her office dropping all charges against nearly 30 percent of felony defendants in her first three years as state’s attorney; her predecessor’s rate over three years was 19.4 percent. These concerns have grown louder in the wake of the present protests and rising violent crime in the city.

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