Last year 38-year-old actor Jussie Smollett became the laughing stock of both the gay and liberal communities when it was found out that he had faked a hate crime against himself, claiming that Trump supporters had attacked him on the streets of Chicago. He was charged with 16 felony counts, which amount to a class 4 felony for lying to the police.
However, due to improper handling of the case, particularly on the part of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and her office, those charges were later dismissed and dropped.
The mishandling of the case forced the appointment of a special prosecutor, Dan Webb, to investigate the case and decide if the CCSAO did any wrongdoing. That investigation was concluded and released on Monday.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Webb found that while Foxx and her office had participated in “substantial abuses of discretion,” no crimes were actually committed, and neither was there any “improper influence by any outside third parties.”
The report gives “five major final conclusions,” with the primary one being that Foxx’s office had made false statements to the public on numerous occasions, basically to cover up their mistakes.
Per the report, “The CCSAO issued a press statement on March 26, 2019 (the day of the dismissal) that stated: ‘In the last two years, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has referred more than 5,700 cases for alternative prosecution. This is not a new or unusual practice. An alternative disposition does not mean that there were any problems or infirmities with the case or the evidence… This outcome was met under the same criteria that would occur for and is available to any defendant with similar circumstances.’”
However, as Webb points out in his report there are two things wrong with this statement.
First is that the Smollett case was not dismissed or resolved in the same way as those 5,700 other cases mentioned. Those were referred to a diversion program. Smollett’s was not.
In fact, there were not any cases that were ever resolved by the CCSAO in a “similar” way as the Smollett case.
And that was far from the only statement made by Foxx, and her office was deemed as “false.”
The office also told tall tales about Foxx’s recusal from the case.
Webb noted that when Foxx made the decision to recuse herself from the case, she made an error in thinking that by taking herself off of the case, she could simply appoint another attorney to take her stead as “Acting State’s Attorney.” However, if she recused herself, the law states that she would also have to recuse her entire office, as they were all privy to the same information. Instead, a special prosecutor would have to be appointed to take over.
Foxx did realize this but only after recusing herself and appointing her colleague Mr. Magats to the case. But the decision had already been made and announced. And so her office rolled with it, acting as if there was nothing wrong with the way the case was being handled. Webb points out that the office further “compounded the problem by making false statements to the media,” claiming they did not know that a wrong had been done.
Special prosecutor Webb’s second point is that Foxx’s office made so many false statements to the press that it could be considered a violation of legal ethics.
You see, according to the Illinois Supreme Court, lawyers are prohibited from “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” This includes anything that could be “calculated to deceive, including the suppression of truth and the suggestion of falsity.”
In addition, Webb noted that as an elected lawyer, Foxx and her office were held to an even higher standard, as the law requires any law held by “other citizens” to go far beyond that of “lawyers holding public office.”
Now, Webb, as a mere special prosecutor, doesn’t exactly have the power to claim that Foxx or her office has indeed violated any ethics code. However, upon noting his findings, he is essentially calling out these actions and begging someone, like say the Illinois Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission, to do what he cannot.
In addition to this report, Webb has also filed a six-count indictment against Smollett for his alleged crimes.