A Cook County judge has ordered that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate the decision to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett.
The Chicago Tribune reports:
Judge Michael Toomin ruled that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx had the right to withdraw from the prosecution but could not legally appoint her top deputy to handle the case in her place.
The special prosecutor could end up charging Smollett, Toomin said, and if the investigation uncovers suspicion of wrongdoing by others, additional charges could be brought.
Toomin made the decision even though the county’s inspector general’s office is already investigating the decision by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office to look into the controversy. Foxx herself, however, agreed to that probe.
Former appellate judge, Sheila O’Brien initiated efforts to have a special prosecutor appointed, claiming that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx created “a perception that justice was not served here, that Mr. Smollett received special treatment.”
Foxx quietly recused herself from Smollett’s case in March and released a statement that she “had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department, who were investigating the incident.’”
Email and text message records show that former Obama staffer Tina Tchen reached out to Foxx on Feb 1 saying the Smollett family had “concerns about the investigation.”
Foxx wrote to Tchen: “Spoke to Superintendent Johnson. I convinced him to (r)each out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get back to me shortly.”
Other messages show Foxx wrote to an unnamed Smollett family member: “spoke to the (police) superintendent earlier, he made the ask. Trying to figure out the logistics.”
The person responded: “Omg this would be a huge victory.”
Smollett was arrested in February after police officially classified him as a suspect for allegedly filing a false police report. Smollett had claimed he was the victim of a homophobic and racist attack that occurred in January in Chicago where two men poured a chemical substance on him, put a rope around his neck and said “This is MAGA country!”
On March 8, Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts and faced up to 48 years in prison. However, on March 26, all charges against the actor were dropped.