A judge in IL is calling for a special prosecutor to look into how prosecutors handled the Jussie Smollett case - which began with the Empire actor reporting a hate crime, then saw him arrested for allegedly faking the incident, and finally having all charges dropped.
Judge Michael Toomin ruled that State's Attorney Kim Foxx had the right to withdraw from the prosecution but could not legally appoint her top deputy to handle the case in her place.
Smollett was arrested and charged with 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime. "She appointed (her top assistant) to an office, to an entity, that has no legal existence.There isn't an office of the 'acting state's attorney.' It existed only.in the imagination of Ms. Foxx". "Smollett, who is black and openly gay, said the masked men beat him, made racist and homophobic comments and yelled, "This is MAGA country" - a reference to President Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan - before fleeing the scene", adds the article.
Smollett also faces a lawsuit from the city of Chicago seeking to recoup the cost of police overtime for investigating the matter. A spokeswoman for Foxx's office said at the time that a Smollett relative was concerned about leaks from Chicago police to the news media.
In his ruling, Judge Toomin called the "recusal that really wasn't" "an exercise in sophistry".
Magats dropped the charges on March 26, sparking outrage from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others who thought Smollett was handed a sweetheart deal.
The decision to let Smollett skate triggered outrage in the Windy City with one former judge filing a petition demanding a special prosecutor. "Sooo... I'm recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases..." 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. In calling for a special prosecutor, O'Brien said it appeared to her and others that Smollett had "received special treatment" from Foxx's office.
Foxx defended her handling of the case and said she would welcome an independent investigation.
Using a metaphor to describe how the State's Attorney Kim Foxx erred in the case, the judge poetically stated that "there was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through unchartered waters". If the office is unwilling to take the case, the request would then go to county prosecutors' offices around the state.
She also said "have been asking myself for the last two weeks what is this really about".
"Empire" creator Lee Daniels confirmed earlier this month that Smollett would not be returning to the show.