Kim Foxx, the Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney who withdrew herself from the prosecution of actor Jussie Smollett, is not yet out of the woods. On Friday, a Cook County judge ruled that the appointment of an “acting state’s attorney” to take her place wasn’t valid.
Foxx, who had recused herself from the prosecution because she’d spoken with one of Smollett’s relatives, named Joseph Magats the acting state’s attorney.
Judge Michael Toomin said that no such title existed and, because of that, the Smollett case played out with no official prosecutor, which raises plenty of questions.
“There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters, and it ultimately lost its bearings,” Toomin wrote in his opinion.
“The unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrants the appointment of independent counsel to restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system.”
As a result of his findings, Toomin shocked everyone involved in the case on Friday by appointing a special prosecutor to find out why Smollett’s charges were suddenly and mysteriously dropped without explanation.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Toomin wrote that Smollett’s case “purported to have been brought and supervised by a prosecutor serving in the stead of our duly elected State’s Attorney, who in fact was appointed to a fictitious office having no legal existence.”
The order for a special investigation into the case was a huge win for former state appellate judge Sheila O’Brien, who was the driving force behind the demand for special prosecution.
The decision also reportedly came as a surprise because Toomin and O’Brien have had not-so-friendly encounters in previous court hearings.
Toomin gave the unnamed special prosecutor a wide scope and wrote that he or she may investigate “the actions of any person or office involved in all aspects of the case.”
That means Smollett, or anyone else involved in the case, could be criminally charged.
Smollett, who is gay, claimed that he was attacked in January by two men shouting racist and homophobic slurs, and that one of the men slipped a noose around his neck.
The case caught fire and made international headlines, given the nature of the alleged attack and the fact that Smollett was a relatively high-profile television actor. But Chicago police eventually determined that Smollett faked the attack by paying two brothers $3,500 for the hoax.
In February, Smollett was charged with disorderly conduct and in March, the world found out he had been indicted on 16 counts.
Not even three weeks after his indictment, Foxx stunned millions when she announced that Smollett’s case had been dismissed, and to make matters worse — and even more suspicious — Foxx didn’t provide a shred of reasoning as to why the case was thrown out.
The jaw-dropping decision furthered public opinion concerning the shady history and doings of Cook County politics.
Toomin’s bombshell announcement is bad timing for Foxx, as she’s currently in her first term as a state’s attorney and is expected to run for re-election in 2020.
If Foxx is eventually found to have been involved in anything shady relating to the Smollett case, it would likely be a political torpedo for her young career.
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