The special prosecutor appointed to review the handling of the initial case against Jussie Smollett claims that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s process and decision making represented a “major failure of operations.”
The 68-page report made public on Monday (Dec. 20) cites multiple instances of false public statements about the case by State’s Attorney Kim Foxx and others in her office in 2019, when they first prosecuted Smollett for staging the fake attack then abruptly dropped the charges against him just weeks later.
According to special prosecutor Dan Webb, some of the prosecutor’s office’s actions may be violations of legal ethics, though he said they did nothing criminal.
Smollett was convicted of lying to police in January 2019 about what he said was a racist and homophobic attack in Chicago. Prosecutors said Smollett staged a fake attack to receive publicity. He is expected to be sentenced in 2022.
Webb took over Smollett’s case after the Cook County State’s Attorney's Office dropped charges against Smollett in March 2019. Since then, he’s investigated Foxx’s handling of the case and whether Smollett should face charges.
The full report includes interviews with Foxx, dozens of employees of her office, Chicago police officers and family and friends of Smollett. It also says Foxx told the special prosecutor’s office that she was surprised when all 16 counts against Smollett were dropped and that she believed he should have been required to admit some wrongdoing.
Foxx also believed prosecutors in her office “wanted to get this guy out of town” because of the media attention coming from the case, according to the report.
In a media statement, Foxx later claimed the case was dropped just like thousands of other similar cases. Webb concluded this was not true.
“The fact that such a significant mischaracterization could be asserted without sufficient vetting, repeated by figureheads of the (Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office), and then never corrected or clarified — particularly in a case the (office) knows has captured the public attention — is unacceptable for an office that must be transparent and maintain public confidence,” Webb’s report states.
Read the full report here.