A Chicago judge on Friday used a nautical analogy to approve a special prosecutor to review how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx handled the Jussie Smollett case.
The “Empire” actor, who faked a hate crime in order to boost his career and denigrate Trump supporters, avoided prosecution after Foxx’s office dropped all criminal charges against him in a dramatic 11th hour announcement in March. The actor forfeited $10,000 in bail and performed 16 hours of community service at Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “Rainbow/Push” headquarters over two days.
Cook County Judge Michael P. Toobin wrote on Friday;
Jussie Smollett’s case is truly unique among the countless prosecutions heard in this building. A case that 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. It is also a case that deviated from the statutory mandate requiring the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases where the State’s Attorney is recused. And finally, it is a case where based upon similar factual scenarios, resulting dispositions and judgments have been deemed void and held for naught.
Here, the ship of the State ventured from its protected harbor without the guiding hand of its captain. There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters. And it ultimately lost its bearings. As with that ship, in the case at hand:
- There was no duly elected State’s Attorney when Jussie Smollett was arrested;
- There was no State’s Attorney when Smollett was initially charged;
- There was no State’s Attorney when Smollett’s case was presented to the grand jury, nor when he was indicted;
- There was no State’s Attorney when Smollett was arraigned and entered his plea of not guilty; and
- There was no State’s Attorney in the courtroom when the proceedings were nolle prossed (dismissed) -Judge Michael P. Toobin
As such, Toobin said that “Adherence to the long-standing principles discussed herein mandates that a special prosecutor be appointed to conduct an independent investigation of the actions of any person or office involved in all aspects of the case,” adding that “if reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Smollett, in the interest of justice the special prosecutor may take such action as may be appropriate to effectuate that result.”