It’s been nearly a year since the charges against Jussie Smollet over an alleged hoax attack were dropped.
Now Jussie Smollett has been indicted by a special prosecutor in Chicago.
According to police, a grand jury served the Empire actor with six disorderly conduct charges for allegedly staging racist and homophobic hate crime.
The charges were announced on Tuesday by special prosecutor Dan Webb, who said his further prosecution is in the ‘interest of justice’.
It’s been an interesting case.
As we reported late last year, even Webb has been entangled in the debacle.
A court filing revealed that Webb once donated $1,000 to Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, causing outrage over the alleged conflict of interest.
Foxx’s attorney first revealed the donation to Webb, who in turn disclosed it to the court.
“My campaign staff notified me that Dan Webb had contributed $1,000 to my campaign in October 2016,” Foxx said in a statement. “Mr. Webb was notified that same day, and my office continues to cooperate fully with the investigation.”
The donation came from a fundraiser in October 2016 at the law firm Winston & Strawn, where Webb serves as a co-executive chairman.
Webb also added that it is common for partners at the law firm to host fundraisers and to show support. He almost always donates, unless he has a specific reason he does not want to support the candidate.
Webb said he does not remember writing the check and thus did not tell the judge who appointed him. It is a potential problem for the recently selected special prosecutor.
Dan Webb will stay on as a special prosecutor in the investigation of how the Jussie Smollett case was handled by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office.
Jussie Smollett case: Documents show special prosecutor Dan Webb made donation to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx. Corruption the Chicago way. https://t.co/iBql5g5occ
— Nick Short 🇺🇸 (@PoliticalShort) October 1, 2019
The hearing with Judge Michael Toomin was held after it was disclosed that Webb contributed $1,000 to Foxx’s campaign fund. Webb said he had no memory of making the contribution but felt compelled to tell the court about it.
“Judge Toomin is the one who appointed me, and so I immediately notified Judge Toomin, because I wanted him to consider whether there was anything about it that could in any way interfere with my ability to be special prosecutor,” Webb said.
“As a result, today, I am very, very pleased with the order that Judge Toomin has entered.”
“Judge Toomin made it very clear that based on the facts and the law there is absolutely no conflict of interest, there’s no appearance of impropriety.
I do not know Kim Foxx. I have never met Kim Foxx.
I have no biases in favor of or against her and there’s no reason whatsoever why I would have any reason not to continue as special prosecutor, but Judge Toomin is the person I wanted to make that decision, because he’s the one who appointed me.”
Webb was appointed as a special prosecutor in August to investigate the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office decision to drop disorderly conduct charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. He’s accused of lying to Chicago police, telling them in January that he was beat up, the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime.
Webb was assigned not only to investigate how Foxx’s office handled the case, but also to determine whether Smollett should be further prosecuted for allegedly staging a hoax hate crime.
“I don’t know where this case is going,” Webb said upon his appointment. “I’m going to take this case one step at a time, I have to master the facts.”
Foxx’s attorney first revealed the donation to Webb, who in turn disclosed it to the court.
A statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said:
“Public trust is paramount to our work. We raised our concerns and accept the court’s ruling. We will continue to fully cooperate with the special prosecutor as he reviews this matter.”
As we shared back in June, it’s the kind of news that will wipe the smug grin right off the face of a b-list actor.
A judge ordered that a special prosecutor be tapped to independently investigate charges that actor Jussie Smollett faked a racist hate crime against himself.
That prosecutor will also be asked with investigating the prosecutors’ abrupt decision in March to drop the felony counts against him.
It was a sharp ruling from the judge concerning the decision by Kim Foxx, the Cook County state’s attorney, to “separate herself” from the investigation and appoint her deputy, Joseph Magats, to oversee the case.
Judge Michael P. Toomin said the decision raised “problematic concerns” and argues the proper procedure should have involved Ms. Foxx asking the court to appoint a special prosecutor.
That’s not what she did and so Judge Toomin wrote that Foxx’s breach of protocol resulted in a “fictitious office” with no “legal existence” having control over the Smollett case.
“There was and is no legally cognizable office of acting state’s attorney known to our statutes or to the common law,” the judge wrote. “Its existence was only in the eye or imagination of its creator, Kim Foxx.”
Foxx put out her own statement saying she disagreed with the judge’s conclusion that a special prosecutor was required.
She says she was just doing what her chief ethics officer, April Perry, told her to do.
Not true, said Perry, who issued her own rebuke. Perry left the office soon after the charges were dropped and said in a statement that this wasn’t the case at all.
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She claims that in February she advised that Magats to ask a court to appoint a special prosecutor. She says Magats responded that Ms. Foxx had decided against it.
“Ultimately, the state’s attorney has a tremendous amount of discretion on a wide range of issues, and we must rely upon the state’s attorney to exercise good judgment in the public’s interest,” Ms. Perry said.
Smollett now faces big troubles. He had been accused of paying to friends to stage an attack against him, where they shouted racist and homophobic slurs and placed a noose around his neck, pretending to be Trump supporters.
On March 26, after Smollett forfeited the $10,000 bond paid for his release, the office suddenly dropped all 16 felony counts against him, saying he wasn’t a threat to public safety.
FBI BUZZ: FBI Intervened in Smollett Race Hoax After Sen. Kamala Harris Showed Up in Phones Records https://t.co/DyfgvVqXZD
— Mike 'Thomas Paine' Moore (@Thomas1774Paine) November 4, 2019
There was an outpouring of anger from Chicago’s mayor at the time, Rahm Emanuel, and Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent.
In his decision, Judge Toomin wrote that the appointment of a special prosecutor was meant to “restore the public confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system.”
Now while it doesn’t specifically mean that Smollett will face charges again, Judge Toomin gave the special prosecutor carte blanche to reopen the case “if reasonable grounds exist”. That means they can also bring charges against anyone else believed to have committed a crime in the course of the case.
It all comes after a petition from a retired appellate judge in Illinois, Sheila O’Brien, for a special prosecutor to be appointed.
Foxx has been adamantly against it, saying another investigation would simply duplicate the work of the Cook County inspector general.
On top of that, she said there was no conflict of interest in the case and that O’Brien had no power, as a civilian with no role in the case, to make the request that she did.
While Judge Toomin agreed there wasn’t evidence of a conflict of interest, he rejected her other arguments.
Foxx’s office fired back, saying Perry’s advice “was not correct” because without a conflict of interest, there was no need for a special prosecutor.
Here is a copy of the ledger with Dan Webb’s donation made to Kim Foxx’s campaign on 10/21/16 pic.twitter.com/GW2mwWdD7s
— Rafer Weigel (@RaferWeigel) September 30, 2019
O’Brien celebrated outside of court, saying she was looking forward to getting the “whole truth” of what happened in the case.
“I have no interest in the outcome of this particular case,” she said. “My interest was in the process, that the process fulfills the law. It did not fulfill the law at the time and now the process is back on track.”
Gloria Schmidt is a lawyer for Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. They are the brothers who say Smollett paid them to stage the attack. Schmidt also praised Judge Toomin’s ruling, saying it made “perfect sense.”
“You can’t just create an office,” Ms. Schmidt said, “which is effectively what State’s Attorney Foxx did.”
Foxx’s office has been under a microscope for months now.
At first, she said she was recusing herself… but later, officials said the word “recusal” wasn’t accurate and that Foxx was simply separating herself from it while her deputies took over.
The state’s attorney’s office publicly said Foxx was off the case because of her previous contact with Smollett’s representatives.
But documents obtained by the media through open-records requests showed Foxx texting a colleague a different explanation.
She said she was removing herself because there were rumors that Ms. Foxx was “related or closely connected to the Smolletts”.
She said it was a rumor that “pervasive” in the Chicago Police Department.
“I thought it was dumb but acquiesced,” Ms. Foxx said of the suggestion that she recuse herself.
As for the rumors? She wrote, “It’s actually just racist.”
In other texts that she sent colleagues after she’d allegedly taken herself off the case, she said her office was treating Smollett too harshly.
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