Special prosecutor’s report reveals numerous irregularities in DA Kim Foxx’s decision not to prosecute Jussie Smollett

Now that the trial of disgraced actor Jussie Smollett has concluded, special prosecutor Dan Webb has released his full report on State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s handling of the Jussie Smollett case, and his conclusions are not kind to her office. While Webb did not find any evidence of criminal conduct in Foxx’s handling of the case, he did find that her office was guilty of several procedural irregularities and ethical missteps, and that the decision to allow Smollett to enter into an “alternative prosecution” agreement constituted an “abuse of prosecutorial discretion.”

Foxx’s office came under intense fire for its decision to drop criminal charges against Smollett in March of 2019, in what the office called an “alternative prosecution agreement.” The decision was immediately blasted by both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who were visibly perturbed that Smollett was being permitted to escape prosecution even while he continued to falsely claim that his hoax story was true. Indeed, immediately after the decision to drop charges was announced, Smollett through his attorneys issued a public statement reiterating his implausible claim to have been an actual victim in the case, leading to calls for an investigation into how Foxx’s office arrived at the decision to drop charges.

At the time, Foxx insisted that she had recused herself due to “familiarity” with the witnesses in the case, although it was subsequently revealed that she had not followed proper recusal procedures and improperly remained in contact with prosecutors who were deciding on Smollett’s fate. Furor over the manner in which the case was handled eventually led to Webb’s appointment, and his office successfully prosecuted Smollett for his hoax.

In a Tuesday interview with “Chicago Tonight,” Webb called the way Foxx’s office handled the Smollett case a “disgrace.”

“To totally dismiss the entire case, require no plea of guilty by Mr. Smollett at all … just give him a complete pass so he can walk out on the street and say to Chicago: ‘Goodbye, I did nothing wrong and I’m out of here,’ after what he did to the Chicago Police Department, for that resolution to have occurred is a disgrace. It is a disgrace and that’s what caused this whole thing,” Webb said.

A portion of Webb’s report was released last August, but now that the trial is over, the full report has been made available to the public for the first time. Among other revelations in the full report, Webb revealed that when he interviewed Foxx about the decision to drop the case, she claimed that she was surprised by her office’s decision to drop the case, and that the charges were dropped, in part, to prevent “throngs of people who were coming to court” for a circus trial.

According to the report, when Webb asked Foxx whether this was an appropriate reason to drop charges, Foxx agreed that it was not and further stated, “I think the kind of negotiating, let’s get rid of that guy [Mr. Smollett] at the expense of really what his actions did to the City shortchanged, I think, the accountability that the City deserved.”

These admissions would seem to contradict Foxx’s numerous public statements defending the decision to drop charges.

The report also notes that, contrary to Foxx’s numerous public statements that the decision to allow Smollett to walk without even an admission of guilt was not unusual, no one in her office could identify a single similar case in which that had been done.

The report also indicates that no one in Foxx’s office wanted to take personal responsibility for the decision to drop charges against Smollett. The two prosecutors who were supposed to have been in charge of the decision both blamed the other: “Mr. Magats told the OSP that Ms. Lanier handled the negotiations of the terms of the resolution (of which he approved). By comparison, Ms. Lanier told the OSP that MR. Magats handled the negotiation of the terms with Mr. Smollett’s counsel.”

Foxx won re-election to her position as state’s attorney in 2020 with around 54% of the vote in spite of the controversy surrounding the Smollett case.

Leon Wolf