A series of recently released text messages from Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx after Jussie Smollett’s indictment reveals that Foxx thought the 16 counts of disorderly conduct originally brought against the actor were excessive.
The text messages were among records released to The Chicago Tribune following a public records request the publication made to investigate the controversial decision to drop the charges against Smollett, who police say faked the attack the actor said occurred on Jan. 29.
“Sooo……I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases…16 counts on a class 4 (felony) becomes exhibit A,” Foxx texted Joseph Magats, her top assistant, on March 8, when the indictments were revealed.
Foxx took a step back from the case in February, saying she had been in contact with Smollett’s relatives. However, she did not make an official recusal, which would have taken her entire office off the case. Instead, she remained in contact with people in her office who were handling the case.
In other texts with Magats, Foxx compared Smollett’s case to that of singer R. Kelly, who was being charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16 (counts),” she wrote, according to texts published by the newspaper.
“On a case eligible for deferred prosecution I think it’s indicative of something we should be looking at generally. Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should.”
Magats in reply promised a “hard look at how we charge the cases and get it to something that covers what needs to be covered without being excessive and ultimately pointless.”
The Tribune noted that the office did not comply with outright requests for its internal files about the investigation. It said that the court ordered all files sealed when the charges against Smollett were dropped.
Although Foxx had said publicly she recused herself, the texts showed she was still in communication with her staff.
Her office issued a statement defending her conduct.
“After the indictment became public, I reached out to Joe to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority,” Foxx said in a statement, according to USA Today.
“I was elected to bring criminal justice reform and that includes intentionality, consistency, and discretion. I will continue to uphold these guiding principles.”
Roughly three weeks after Foxx objected to the multiple indictments against Smollett, the case was dropped.
The texts released by the Tribune include some that emerged after the charges were dismissed regarding Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
“Eddie just called. [He] needed to know how to answer questions from press,” Foxx texted. She explained that she told Johnson that the actor completed community service and gave his bond money to the city.
“He seemed satisfied with the explanation,” Foxx wrote.
Johnson later joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel in denouncing the decision to drop the prosecution.
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