August 15, 2022

Chicago’s top prosecutor, who originally let Jussie Smollett skate on 16 felony charges for lying to police, called the prosecution of the disgraced actor a failure of the justice system and said he was the victim of “mob justice.” 

Kim Foxx made the remarks in a Thursday night column in the Chicago Sun-Times published shortly after Smollett, 39, was sentenced to five months in jail for staging a hate crime against himself in a bid to raise his public profile. 

“Just because we do not like the outcome should not mean we bully prosecutors and circumvent the judicial process to get it changed. Smollett was indicted, tried and convicted by a kangaroo prosecution in a matter of months,” Foxx wrote in the piece. 

“Meanwhile, the families of more than 50 Black women murdered in Chicago over the last 20 years await justice.” 

Foxx made the remarks in a Thursday night column in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
Smollett wipes away tears in court.
Smollett wipes away tears in court.
POOL

Shortly after a grand jury returned a 16-count indictment against Smollett in 2019, Foxx made the decision to quietly drop all charges against him after he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond and complete some community service hours. 

The state attorney was widely lambasted for the move and a series of other ethical blunders she made while handling the case. 

Foxx continued to speak with Smollett’s sister after he was the target of a criminal probe and deliberately misled the public in her “colloquial recusal” where she continued to be actively involved in the case and never filed to appoint a special prosecutor, as is required by law. 

Jussie Smollett proclaims his innocence as he is sentenced to jail.
Jussie Smollett proclaims his innocence as he is sentenced to jail.
BRIAN CASSELLA/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shut
Abimbola Osundairo, right, prays with his brother Olabinjo Osundairo, center, a bodyguard, left, and their attorney during Smollett's trial in Dec. 2021.
Abimbola Osundairo (counterclockwise from right) prays with his brother Olabinjo Osundairo, a bodyguard and their attorney during Smollett’s trial in December 2021.
Charles Rex Arbogast

The missteps ultimately prompted Judge Michael Toomin to appoint special prosecutor Dan Webb to reinvestigate the case, ruling Foxx’s handling of the matter was rife with “unprecedented irregularities” and a second look was necessary to restore confidence in the criminal justice system. 

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In the column, Foxx defended her “prosecutorial discretion” in her decision to drop the charges against Smollett and criticized the appointment of Webb as “mob justice.”

“Given the reputational price Smollett paid, the $10,000 bond we held, and the fact that he’d never been accused of a violent crime, my office made the decision not to further pursue a criminal conviction. This story should have ended there, as thousands upon thousands of non-prosecuted cases do every day,” Foxx wrote. 

Judge James Linn speaks during the sentencing hearing.
Judge James Linn speaks during the sentencing hearing.
POOL
Jussie Smollett's family walks back to their car after the sentencing.
Jussie Smollett’s family walks back to their car after the sentencing.
Anthony Vazquez

“Instead, taxpayers have since spent millions of dollars for the criminal prosecution of a hoax. Last year alone there were over 800 murders in Chicago. My administration has vacated over 177 wrongful convictions, 87 of those in the last 3 years. Rather than working collaboratively to stem rising crime or free the wrongly convicted, a small group of people hijacked the judicial system to enact what is best described as mob justice.” 

Shortly after Foxx dropped Smollett’s charges, her office said similar deferred prosecution deals were offered to a slew of defendants facing similar raps, but when pressed, it was never able to produce an example. 

When asked about Foxx’s comments late Thursday, Webb said he doesn’t answer to Foxx and previously said on multiple occasions that his firm took on the case “pro bono.”  

Smollett in court on Thursday.
Smollett in court on Thursday.
POOL
Smollett raises his fist to proclaim his innocence.
Smollett raises his fist to proclaim his innocence.
BRIAN CASSELLA / POOL

“When [Toomin] heard the evidence and that in fact the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed the entire indictment with no punishment whatsoever, no jail time, no restitution, no criminal fine, no probation, no deferred [prosecution], Smollett was allowed to go free and basically give the finger to the city of Chicago,” Webb said. 

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“Judge Toomin decided that the handling of that case was so inappropriate that a special prosecutor needed to be appointed, so I follow the directions of Judge Toomin, not the directions of Kim Foxx.”