Kim Foxx's Top Deputies Start Quitting Amid Jussie Smollett Fallout
Chicago, IL – Two of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s top deputies have tendered their resignations, and will be leaving office in early May.
Chief Ethics Officer April Perry, who wrote the memo announcing that Foxx had recused herself from “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett’s case, and veteran prosecutor Mark Rotert are both in the midst of their final weeks at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Perry announced her resignation on Wednesday, and told staff in an email that she accepted a position as general counsel for a tech company.
"While I feel lucky to have been able to spend the last 15 years of my career in public service, I am looking forward to my next endeavor in the private sector where I have the opportunity to continue to work toward increasing the safety of our community," Perry said, according to FOX News.
Rotert submitted his resignation on March 27, just one day before Foxx’s office dropped all 16 counts of disorderly conduct pending against Smollett, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Rotert said that the dismissal had “absolutely zero percent to do” with his decision to leave the office, and that was not involved with the case until after it was dismissed.
He then acted as a liaison between Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard and Foxx to set up an independent review into the handling of the Smollett case.
He has been overseeing the office’s handling of wrongful conviction claims for the past two years.
“I am just incredibly proud of the work we did,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I think we have a [unit] that really should be a national model.”
Nearly all of Foxx’s top staff members, many of whom she brought in from outside the state’s attorney’s office, have left the office since she came on board in 2016.
“I am profoundly grateful for Mark’s work to make the Cook County Conviction Integrity Unit a national model,” Foxx said on Thursday night. “The people of Cook County have been well served by his leadership and he has well earned his retirement.”
“I am also grateful for April Perry’s tenure as the first ever Chief Ethics Officer for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office,” she continued. “I wish her well in her new endeavors.”
Foxx has been embroiled in controversy ever since her office dropped the 16 felony charges of disorderly conduct against Smollett in March.
Smollett was released despite solid assertions from the police department and Foxx’s assistants that the actor was guilty of staging a hoax attack on himself, and they had the evidence to prove it.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said the charges of lying to the police had been dropped in exchange for restitution in the form of giving up his $10,000 bail and performing 16 hours of community service for the Reverend Jessie Jackson’s charity.
But even as the prosecutor’s office claimed there was nothing unusual about deferred action in a case like Smollett’s, WLS reported that staff in the state’s attorney’s office was scrambling to find similar examples to use in their own defense.
Many members of the legal community – including the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association and the National District Attorneys Association – have sharply criticized Foxx’s explanation for why Smollett was allowed to walk, FOX News reported.
In March, President Donald Trump announced that he had requested a federal review of the state’s attorney’s decisions.