Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty on Thursday March 14, 2019 in the Leighton Criminal Court Building. (E. Jason Wambsgans / Pool / Chicago Tribune)
Finger pointing, misleading statements, « serious abuse of powers » and a « serious failure » of operations were among the results of a special prosecutor’s investigation into Cook County Attorney Kim Foxx and her office’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case / p> Judge Michael Toomin on Monday allowed the public release of a 60-page executive summary report by Special Prosecutor Dan Webb and his team investigating how and why Foxx and her office dismissed an initial charge against the former « Empire » star.
Toomin appointed Webb as special attorney in this case after Foxx’s office dismissed an initial series of 16 criminal charges against Smollett, who was accused of directing a hoax hate crime against himself in January 2019 in Chicago / p> Webb was hired to re-investigate the Smollett case as well as the Fests whether Foxx or any other person or entity involved in the case “was involved in improper conduct or committed criminal acts”.
The Special Prosecutor finally brought new charges against only Smollett, who made five out of six criminal charges this month Conduct was convicted.
Webb’s team released a brief report last year highlighting the highlights of its investigation, including the discovery of « serious misuse of powers and operational errors » in the prosecutor’s handling of the first charge.
The prosecution dismissed the Original 16-count indictment returned against Smollett in March 2019 after agreeing to forfeit the $ 10,000 he paid bail and do 16 hours of community service.
In the report, Webb stated, that he and his team have « thoroughly investigated » whether Foxx or someone in the prosecution has committed a crime i n related to the indictment or the eventual settlement of this case.
During the trial, they interviewed 43 people including Foxx, her then first assistant Joseph Magats, prosecutor Risa Lanier, and former Chicago Police Commissioner Eddie Johnson.
Webb’s team also spoke to Tina Tchen, former Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, who served as the Smollett family representative in 2019 and spoke to Foxx about the case before it was released.
Although no evidence for one If criminal charges were found against anyone other than Smollett, the Special Prosecutor stated that the resolution of the case represented a « grave failure of the operations » of Foxx’s office.
Foxx was under oath during her interview with Webb’s team when she gave them said that she believed the first case was resolved as it was because the prosecutors in her office « wanted this guy out of town » because of the » hectic activity « that the case had brought into the Leighton Criminal Court building.
According to the report, she agreed that this may not be the right reason to open a case.
» I think The nature of the negotiation, let’s get rid of this guy at the expense of what his actions have done to the city, has, in my opinion, failed to achieve the accountability the city deserves, « Foxx is quoted as saying in the report.
Several other recent ones or former prosecutors also said Webb’s team were « surprised » or « shocked » by the way in which Smollett’s first case was resolved. Some said the amount of community service required of him was small, while others said the speed at which the case was settled – just 19 days after Smollett was charged – was « ridiculous. »
Prosecutors in Foxx ‘ Bureau said the fact that the case was brought to light so quickly with no substantial new evidence had never seen anything before.
Aside from substantial new evidence, Magats and Lanier – who were responsible for the case – shared Notifying the Special Prosecutor, respectively, that no new evidence whatsoever had been found between Smollett’s charges and the rejection of those charges.
And according to the report, Magats and Lanier gave conflicting reports on how the case was settled. Each pointed finger at the other when asked who negotiated the deal with Smollett’s Legal Department. Smollett’s attorney said she had initial interviews with Magats but worked with Lanier to work through the settlement, the report said.
Magats and Lanier also cited conflicting dates for starting the case resolution discussion and contradicted each other each other about how the solution was created and what it was about.
Webb’s investigation also found that Foxx and Magats repeatedly misrepresented the resolution of the case and the public about how and why that decision was made in at least half a dozen media outlets , misled, which could constitute a violation of legal ethics.
According to the report, the Special Prosecutor said he had found no evidence that Foxx was involved in the decision-making of the case after she withdrew despite herself has been « updated frequently » on the matter.
While several people interviewed by Webb’s office are of the opinion were that the denial meant she couldn’t have any involvement in the case at all, including receiving updates, Foxx said she considered herself in « listening mode, » where she only received information but did not respond to the case Ultimately, Webb’s team determined that there was no evidence that Foxx or anyone in their office could be prosecuted for « bribery, failure to report a bribe, official misconduct, obstruction of justice, perjury or other criminal law » .
« In particular, the (Office of the Special Prosecutor) 37 respondents who may have information about criminal activities in the (Cook County Office) specifically asked if they were aware of any actions by anyone in the (Office), which is criminal behavior, « said Webb’s team in the report. « All respondents broadly replied that they were not aware of any potential criminal behavior. » In a statement on Monday evening, the Foxx office said it was « still committed to honesty and transparency » and that it « voted respectfully does not « agree with Webb’s findings about the abuse of discretion in the prosecution.
» Although Prosecutor Kim Foxx was not involved in the initial ruling on the Smollett case, she and the (prosecution) stand firm that the firm is on the move Prosecutor’s discretion, « the statement said.
Webb had previously requested publication of this summary report during a hearing in August 2020. However, Toomin denied that motion, stating that the Special Prosecutor had shown no « special need » for its publication as it contained proprietary grand jury material and Smollett’s right to a fair trial.
In a new motion, Filed last week, Webb stated that « the public publication of the (Office of the Special Prosecutor’s Office) executive report will not prejudice Mr Smollett’s right to a fair trial, as this case is closed and a judgment has been reached. » rendered. ”
“ I believe receiving my report will help restore public confidence in our criminal justice system, ”he said. “That’s what I was asked to do. I did and I am now glad that the report is published. ”
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