Kim Foxx Smollet

Kim Foxx Blasted by IPBA for Jussie Smollett Case Handling

“The public has the right to know the truth, and we set out to do that here.”

In the wake of controversy over the Cook County State Attorney’s office’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case, the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association (IPBA) released a letter Thursday excoriating the State Attorney’s office, taking particular aim at Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx.

Following the dismissal of all charges against the alleged hate-crime hoaxer earlier this week, the IPBA blasted the job done by Foxx as unrepresentative “of the honest ethical work prosecutors provide to the citizens of the State of Illinois on a daily basis.”

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“The public has the right to know the truth, and we set out to do that here,” the letter reads.

The IPBA’s letter continues by outlining a litany of potential improprieties, false statements and illegalities by the State Attorney’s office, including Foxx’s failure to legally recuse herself, her claim that the deal given to Smollett is standard practice, and telling the public that the uncontested sealing of the criminal court case was “mandatory” under Illinois law.

According to the IPBA letter, when “an elected State’s Attorney recuses herself from a prosecution, Illinois law provides that the court shall appoint a special prosecutor.” The bar association cites a specific law, “55 ILCS 5/3-9008(a-15),” to call Foxx’s conduct into question.

The IPBA said that normally the special prosecutor “is a neighboring State’s Attorney, the Attorney General, or the State Appellate Prosecutor.” But Foxx “kept the case within her office and thus never actually recused herself as a matter of law.”

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The “Cook County State’s Attorney’s office falsely informed the public that the uncontested sealing of the criminal court case was ‘mandatory’ under Illinois law,” the letter reads. “This statement is not accurate. To the extent the case was even eligible for an immediate seal, that action was discretionary, not mandatory, and only upon the proper filing of a petition to seal.”

The IPBA takes issue with Foxx’s claim that the arrangement brokered with Smollett is  “available to all defendants” and “not a new or unusual practice.”

“There has even been an implication it was done in accordance with a statutory diversion program,” the letter says. “These statements are plainly misleading and inaccurate.  This action was highly unusual, not a statutory diversion program, and not in accordance with well accepted practices of State’s Attorney initiated diversionary programs.”

Foxx has been the subject of intense public scrutiny since charges against Smollett were dropped at a Tuesday emergency court hearing. The National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) released a scathing statement Wednesday criticizing the actions of her office.

In its statement, the NDAA said that high profile cases such as Smollett’s need to be handled with care in order to “increase, not diminish, the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system.”

The NDAA also took issue with Foxx having contact with “politically connected friends” of Smollett.

“Prosecutors should not take advice from politically connected friends of the accused,” the NDAA said. “Each case should be approached with the goal of justice for victims while defending the rights of the defendant.”

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As a result of her contact with the Smollett family, Foxx informally recused herself from the case. Although, as the Chicago Tribune reported, Foxx never officially recused herself.

Foxx was put in touch with Smollett’s family by former First Lady Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen. Tchen emailed the county’s top prosecutor to express that the family had “concerns about the probe.”

Foxx told both Tchen and a relative of Smollett that she had asked Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to hand the investigation over to the FBI, text messages show.

“Spoke to the Superintendent Johnson,” Foxx emailed Tchen the same day. “I convinced him to reach out to FBI to ask that they take over the investigation. He is reaching out now and will get to me shortly.”

“I make no guarantees, but I’m trying,” Foxx wrote.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and members of the Chicago Police department were outraged by the prosecutors’ decision.

“My personal opinion is, you all know where I stand on this,” Johnson told reporters. “Do I think justice was served? No. What do I think justice is? I think this city is still owed an apology.”

Emanuel slammed the “whitewash of justice,” saying of Smollett, “How dare he?”

Smollett, 36, black and gay former star of Fox’s “Empire” TV show, reported to the Chicago Police Department on Jan. 29 that he was assaulted by two masked men who called him racist and homophobic slurs and shouted “This is ‘MAGA’ country!” He said his assailants poured what he believed was bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.

Police at first investigated the incident as a possible hate crime, and many other celebrities, activists, politicians, and journalists rushed to condemn not just the attackers but the supposed state of Trump’s America.

In February, Smollett was arrested and charged with staging the crime in an apparent effort to garner attention and sympathy. Fox would cut ties with the actor shortly after, removing him from the final two episodes of the season.

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