“She’ll be served eventually.”
Chicago attorney Tina Tchen is avoiding a subpoena of documents of her conversations with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx during the Jussie Smollett investigation, the Chicago Sun Times reported Wednesday.
Tchen refused to come down from her law firm office to receive the subpoena, said Edward Ryan, who runs the private investigation firm that made the delivery. Ryan said that his process server was barred from going upstairs by the building’s security guard.
“I don’t know why she’d turn it down, Ryan said. “She’ll be served eventually.”
Illinois Appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien issued the subpoena. She called on Tchen, who served as chief of state to first lady Michelle Obama, to attend a May 31 hearing and bring copies of “any and all documents, notes, phone records, texts, tape recordings made or received at any time, concerning [Tchen’s] conversations with Kim Foxx in re: Jussie Smollett.”
O’Brien has been lobbying for a special prosecutor to be appointed to investigate Foxx’s handling of the Smollett case. What started as an investigation of a potential hate crime reported by the former “Empire” actor on Jan. 29 ended with Smollett being charged with 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct. Police said he staged an attack against himself for publicity.
However, the charges were mysteriously dropped in March.
Days later, Tchen became a target of suspicion case after conversations she had with Foxx regarding the case were leaked to the media.
“I wanted to give you a call on behalf of Jussie Smollett and family who I know. They have concerns about the investigation,” Tchen told Foxx in one exchange.
Foxx told both Tchen and a relative of Smollett that she had asked Johnson, the superintendent, to hand the investigation over the FBI, the 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.”
Tchen texted a similar message to Smolett’s family member, who replied: “Omg this would be a huge victory.”
“I make no guarantees, but I’m trying,” Foxx wrote back.
Police were treating Smollett as a victim at the time.
Despite the leaked exchange, Tchen has denied she attempted to intervene in the case on behalf of Smollet.
“Shortly after Mr. Smollett reported he was attacked, as a family friend, I contacted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who I also know from prior work together. My sole activity was to put the chief prosecutor in the case in touch with an alleged victim’s family who had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public,” Tchen said in a March statement.
Foxx later acknowledged that she did attempt to persuade Chicago Police to turn over the investigation to the FBI, but claims she did so out of concerns that too many details of the case were being leaked to the media.
Foxx later dropped the case against Smollett in an emergency court hearing, thereby sealing the records of the case. Contrary to some reports, there was no plea deal behind the move. Foxx cited what she said was Smollett’s previous community service to explain the decision.
“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollet’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” she said.
But on Thursday, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Steven Watkins ordered the records of the case to be unsealed. According to Watkins, Smollett forfeited his right to privacy by giving extensive media interviews before and after prosecutors dropped his case.
“[Smollett] voluntarily appeared on national television for an interview speaking about the incident in detail,” Watkins said. “After the March 26 dismissal, he voluntarily stood in front of cameras from numerous news organizations in the courthouse lobby and spoke about the case. On several occasions, attorneys for defendant, presumably with his authorization, appeared on various media outlets speaking about the case.”
“These are not the actions of a person seeking to maintain his privacy or simply to be let alone,” the judge added.