Foxx says Smollett faces ‘kangaroo chases’
After disgraced actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail on Thursday for masterminding a prank, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx called the legal proceedings “mob justice” and a politically motivated “kangaroo chase”.
But veterans of the Cook County court system pushed back hard while questioning Foxx’s office’s decision to drop charges against Smollett before the case was eventually reassigned to Special Prosecutor Dan Webb.
In a Chicago Sun-Times column, Foxx claimed that Smollett’s prosecution could ultimately serve as “a deterrent for the next generation of prosecutors eager to fight for critical reform.”
“It pains me deeply to say that, in this particular case, our justice system has failed,” Foxx wrote.
Former Cook County Judge Dan Locallo said Foxx’s comment amounted to an “attempt to deflect any discussion of why his office acted the way it did.”
Locallo, who also served as a Cook County prosecutor, said he could not recall any other instance where a suspect had had his charges dropped without notice shortly after being indicted by a grand jury. Judge Michael Toomin named Webb to the case six months after that move.
“Dan Webb explained his findings and he took the appropriate steps to charge Smollett again, unlike Kim Foxx who gave no explanation and suddenly the charges were dropped,” Locallo said. “Who Acts Like a Kangaroo Court?”
Foxx took little responsibility for her own role in the Smollett saga in the column, though she noted Webb’s investigation “unironically” accused her of “abuse of power.”
A report filed by Webb found that while Foxx and his staff did nothing illegal, the state’s attorney and his key deputies committed procedural and ethical missteps by mishandling the case and then attempted to mislead the public amid the decision to dismiss the charges. It also showed Foxx receiving regular updates on the case after she supposedly ‘recused’ herself and continued to speak to Smollett’s sister after learning he was the target of a criminal investigation.
Webb said he hadn’t read Foxx’s column, but noted that his conduct raised Toomin’s eyebrows.
“Smollett was cleared to release himself and give the middle finger to the city of Chicago,” Webb said as he left the courthouse Thursday. “Judge Toomin ruled that the handling of this case was so improper that a special prosecutor should be appointed.
“So I’m following Judge Toomin’s instructions and not Kim Foxx’s.”
Toomin declined to comment after Smollett’s attorneys indicated they planned to appeal the conviction. In addition to the prison sentence, Smollett was fined $25,000 and ordered to pay the City of Chicago $120,000 in restitution.
One of Smollett’s attorneys, Shay Allen, said he agreed with Foxx’s assessment that the prosecution was politically motivated as he read the op-ed in the courthouse lobby on Thursday .
“The impetus was to guess at the prosecutor — a progressive black prosecutor — and say, ‘That old white guy can do a better job than you,’ Allen said. ‘And Jussie got caught in the crossfire.’
Contributor: Matthew Hendrickson