A Cook County judge ordered that a special prosecutor be appointed in the Jussie Smollett case and also insists that investigators look into the handling tactics of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office who decided to drop the charges against the embattled actor.
Judge Michael Toomin produced a 21-page order on Friday that slammed Foxx’s decision to not appoint a special prosecutor after she recused herself from the case in February, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The ruling means Smollett could face a second round of charges.
“There was no duly elected state’s attorney when Jussie Smollett was arrested. Ms. Foxx had already effected her recusal,” Toomin said, nor was there any legally appointed prosecutor when Smollett was charged, or the charges dismissed,” Toomin wrote in his opinion.
The turn of events is the latest development in the months-long ordeal of an alleged hate crime on January 29 where Smollett said he was the intended target because of his race and sexuality. However, investigators with the Chicago Police Department maintain that the former Empire actor staged the assault. The accusation lit a firestorm on social media evoking the CPD’s racist tactics aimed at Black Chicagoans and the presumption of guilt before a trial.
Smollet was charged with filing a false police report, but the charges were dropped in March.
“I am pleased that the court agreed there was no conflict of interest here. Regarding recusal, I followed the advice and counsel of my then Chief Ethics Officer. In any event, I respectfully disagree with the court’s conclusion that, in the absence of any conflict, the appointment of a special prosecutor is required,” Foxx said in response to Toomin’s opinion on Friday. “As always, I remain committed to transparency, justice, and the public safety of the communities we serve.”
According to state law, Toomin will first need to request that the Illinois Attorney General’s Office or the state Appellate prosecutor take over the case. If either agency decides not to take the job, a private lawyer can be appointed and paid for by the county.