No one will ever accuse Jussie Smollett of being irresolute.
Ever since he first complained to Chicago police that he was attacked by two assailants wearing “Make America Great Again” hats who targeted him because he’s black and gay, he has steadfastly maintained that his story is totally true.
Even after the detectives from the Chicago Police Department tracked down the two people who allegedly attacked him – and determined that he had hired them to fake the attack – Jussie has insisted that he’s been telling the truth.
Last August, Smollett’s Public Relations firm issued a “Press Release” indicating that the Chicago P.D. police actually had documentation to prove that Smollett was telling the truth. But they never said what that documentation was.
How the Original Case Unfolded
Based on the results of the Police Department’s investigation, local prosecutors were able to convince a Cook County grand jury to indict Smollett on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct – all of which were related to his false accusations and concerning the alleged attack.
Less than a month after the charges were brought, however, they were dismissed by Joseph Magats – the First Deputy Cook County State Attorney who had been appointed to serve as Acting Cook County State Attorney, a position that does not exist under Illinois law (Magats was appointed to the non-existent position by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx after she determined that she had a potential conflict-of-interest in the case).
In conjunction with the dismissal, Smollett agreed to forfeit the $10,000 he had posted as bail – and to perform 16 hours of community service (It is not known whether he ever did any community service work).
Within weeks after the charges were dismissed, the City of Chicago filed a civil lawsuit against Smollett in an attempt to recover the $130,000 it claims to have spent investigating his bogus claims. That lawsuit is still pending.
On August 23, 2019, Chicago Criminal Court Judge Michael P. Toomin appointed former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as a Special Prosecutor – and directed Webb to investigate the original charges against Smollett and the unusual way in which they were dismissed.
Recent Developments in the Case
On February 11, 2020, a special Cook County Grand Jury indicted Smollett on six new counts of disorderly conduct.
At the time the new indictment was issued, Webb’s office released a statement indicating that Smollett had filed four separate false police reports claiming that he was the victim of a hate crime.
The statement also noted the “extensive nature” of Smollett’s reports – and cited the resources that were expended by the Chicago Police Department in investigating his claims.
“The grand jury’s investigation revealed that Jussie Smollett planned and participated in a staged hate crime attack, and thereafter made numerous false statements to Chicago Police Department officers on multiple occasions, reporting a heinous hate crime that he, in fact, knew had not occurred,” Webb said in a statement.
Webb also noted that his office had “obtained sufficient factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the [Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office] resolved the Smollett case.”
Webb said that Foxx’s office couldn’t provide evidence to show that it handled the case as it would have handled any similar case – and indicated that he found nothing that would change the office’s initial conclusion that there was “strong evidence” against Smollett in the three weeks between the time he was charged and when the charges were dropped.
At his arraignment on February 24, 2020, Smollett pleaded not guilty to the new charges.
Cook County Circuit court Judge James Linn ordered Smollett to post a $20,000 bond – and set a March 18th hearing in the case.
Smollett – who has been previously extremely outspoken in declaring his innocence – was quite subdued at the February 24th hearing. In fact, the only words he uttered were “Yes, sir” when Judge Linn asked him a series of procedural questions about the case.
Prior to the February 24th hearing, Smollett’s attorneys asked the Illinois Supreme Court to toss the new charges on the basis that Webb’s appointment as Special Prosecutor was unauthorized.
“The circumstances surrounding the initial case in 2019 did not reach the legal level warranting the appointment of a special prosecutor,” attorneys William J. Quinlan and Tina Glandian stated in their motion. “Under the terms of the law, in order to appoint a special prosecutor, the office (of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx) had to file a former recusal with the court and that didn’t occur here.”
Last Friday, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected Smollett’s motion – and refused to remove Webb from the case.
Following the February 24th hearing, Smollett’s attorneys also submitted a motion to the Circuit Court asking that the new charges be dismissed based on a “double-jeopardy” challenge. That motion has not yet been decided.
Meanwhile, the Political Fallout Continues
Kim Foxx, the Cook County State Attorney who recused herself from the original case, is up for re-election this year – and is facing plenty of opposition.
Three Democrats are challenging Foxx in the primary election that will be held on March 17th.
Throughout the campaign, all three challengers have raised questions about Foxx’s handling of the Smollett case – and called for her to resign.
Much of the criticism has focused on the fact that Foxx connected several members of Smollett’s family with the Chicago P.D. detectives who were investigating his claims – and then cited that as the basis for her recusing herself from the case.
Foxx’s opponents have also criticized her for appointing Magats to the non-existent position of Acting Cook County State Attorney – and for allowing Magats to dismiss the original charges against Smollett.
In addition, all three opponents have claimed that since Foxx took office in 2016, her policies have led to more dangerous streets, with fewer gun trials, more bail releases, and emboldened shoplifters.
Recent polls indicate that one of Foxx’s opponent, Bill Conway, is surging – and is now neck-and-neck with her among Democratic voters in Cook County.
Albany County Voters Will Also Have a Chance This Year to Replace Their District Attorney
Albany County, NY and Cook County, IL feature two of the Democrat party’s strongest political machines.
Most local elections in both locations are decided by the winner of the Democratic primary – and many times there is no Republican opponent in the general election.
But just like Cook County voters will have a chance to replace Kim Foxx this year, so too will the voters in Albany County, NY have a chance to replace her counterpart, P. David Soares.
Soares, who is primarily known for his close association with – and strong support for – the NXIVM criminal enterprise that he allowed to openly operate in Albany County since he was first elected in 2004, actually has a legitimate challenger this year for the Democratic nomination for Albany County District Attorney: Matthew Toporowski.
Note to P. David: We’re going to be covering this campaign from now until the primary election on June 28th – and we’re going to be asking you to answer a lot of questions about your involvement with the NXIVM criminal enterprise.