Chicago’s top prosecutor, Kim Foxx and her top deputy Joseph Magats have been subpoenaed to appear in court this week over their handling of the Jussie Smollett case, Fox News reported.
Foxx has come under withering criticism for her office’s decision in March to dismiss 16 felony disorderly conduct charges against the “Empire” actor amid overwhelming evidence that he staged a hate-crime attack against himself.
Retired appellate judge Sheila O’Brien filed a petition last week for a special prosecutor to investigate the Smollett case, saying it was “plagued with irregularity.” O’Brien also filed a “notice to appear” requesting Smollett’s attendance at Thursday’s court hearing.
Additionally, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the judge requested that Foxx, Magats, and Smollett produce original documents in the criminal case to show “that they have not been altered or destroyed and will not be destroyed throughout this case.”
Foxx initially claimed to have recused herself from the case due to contact she’d had with a relative of Smollett’s during the investigation, but her office later clarified that she had not legally recused herself. Foxx’s spokeswoman Tandra Simonton explained that her use of the word “recuse” was meant as a “colloquial use” rather than the legal definition of the term.
“The State’s Attorney did not formally recuse herself or the Office based on any actual conflict of interest,” Simonton said in a statement, two days after the charges against Smollett were dropped. “As a result, she did not have to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor under [state law].”
O’Brien was not impressed with the State’s Attorney’s legal sleight of hand.
“Foxx’s conflict in this matter is beyond dispute,” O’Brien wrote, “instead, Foxx misled the public into believing that Smollett’s case was handled like any other prosecution and without influence.”
Smollett told police he was attacked by Trump supporters on Jan. 29 around 2 a.m. as he was returning home from a Subway sandwich shop in Chicago.
He said two masked men shouted racial and anti-gay slurs, poured bleach on him, beat him and tied a rope around his neck. He claimed they shouted, “This is MAGA country” — a reference to President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan.
After an intense investigation that lasted several weeks, police announced that they had determined that Smollett staged the entire incident with the help of his two Nigerian friends.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (Chicago FOP) have since demanded that Foxx resign.
Earlier this month, Foxx suggested that criticism over her handling of the case was “really about” racism. “As someone who has lived in this city, who came up from the projects of this city, to serve as the first African-American woman in this role, it is disheartening to me, and to the women and men for whom I represent … when we get in these positions, that somehow goalposts change.”
(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)