New Conflict Of Interest In Investigation Of Kim Foxx's Handling Of Smollett
Chicago, IL – The judge who will determine whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the handling of former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett’s case has a son who works for Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Retired Appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien filed a petition on Thursday asking Cook County Judge Leroy Martin Jr. to recuse himself and assign the case to a judge outside the county, FOX News reported.
“You're going to be deciding whether [Foxx], your son's boss, is telling the truth," O'Brien told Martin.
The judge’s son, Leroy Martin III, was hired by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in April of 2018 and has worked for Foxx for more than a year, FOX News reported.
Martin said he would consider whether to recuse himself and scheduled a hearing for May 10.
O’Brien’s petition called out Foxx’s non-recusal of herself from the Smollett case, when she announced publicly that she was stepping aside because she had been helping the actor’s family, but then never “formally” recused herself or sent the case to another jurisdiction.
The petition said Foxx’s comments and actions produced "a perception that justice was not served here, that Mr. Smollett received special treatment," FOX News reported.
This is only the latest ethical dilemma to challenge the beleaguered Cook County state’s attorney.
Foxx has been under fire since her office announced it was dropping all 16 felony charges against Smollett in March.
As a result of the dismissed charges, Foxx found herself in the hot seat with the Chicago mayor, the police chief, and the President of the United States, who has called for a federal investigation.
Her office has been in a scramble trying to prove that the disposition of Smollett’s case was in line with similar cases that went through her office.
Two of Foxx’s top deputies have tendered their resignations, and will be leaving the prosecutor’s office in early May.
In April, she was forced to recuse herself from the case of a man charged with battery on a peace officer after she appeared on Facebook in a selfie with the defendant.
Then Cook County Judge Marc Martin called out the state’s attorney for giving special treatment to celebrities after Foxx’s office aggressively prosecuted another defendant charged with one felony count for filing a false police report after the same attorneys let Smollett go after he was indicted on 16 felony counts by a grand jury.
Initially, Foxx said she would welcome an independent investigation of her office’s handling of the Smollett case, but on Tuesday, she changed her tune dramatically and filed a motion opposing O’Brien’s call for a special prosecutor, FOX News reported.
She has asked that subpoenas for herself and Joseph Magats, the prosecutor she tasked with the Smollett case, be quashed, and that O’Brien be prohibited from issuing any more subpoenas in the matter.
Smollett was arrested on Feb. 21 for staging a hoax attack on himself in Chicago.
Chicago police have said they believe Smollett lied when he told police he was jumped by two masked men as he was walking home from a Subway restaurant in his Streeterville neighborhood in the early hours of Jan. 29.
He said the men beat him, and hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him.
Smollett told police that the men threw an unknown substance on him and put a noose around his neck before they ran off.
His manager told police that he was on the phone with his client at the time of the attack and heard Smollett’s attackers say “This is MAGA country” while they were assaulting the actor, NBC News reported.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
He said police have obtained phone records that “clearly indicate” Smollett and the Osundairo brothers talked to each other quite a bit before and after the staged attack, as well as while the brothers were out of the country.
Superintendent Johnson also said that Smollett had beaten himself up before he went to the hospital.
“The brothers had on gloves during the staged attacked where they punched him a little bit. But as far as we can tell, the scratches and bruising that you saw on his face was most likely self-inflicted,” the superintendent explained.
He said that he believed the actor wanted the faked attack caught on camera, but the particular camera he chose to perform in front of wasn’t pointed the right direction.
The superintendent said chasing down bogus leads “put out in the universe” by the media wasted a lot of the police’s time during the investigation.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
But then on March 26, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
The city of Chicago has since sued Smollett for the cost of the overtime the police department incurred while investigating the hoax.