Last week, actor Jussie Smollett was convicted for faking a racist hate crime against himself. Smollett lied to the police, the media, and eventually the jury, which, as honest citizens tend to do, saw through the lies and convicted him. The case made national headlines, but you won’t hear Cook County state’s attorney Kim Foxx mentioning the conviction. Though the offense happened in Chicago and the charges were filed by the Chicago Police Department, Foxx’s office decided at the time not to prosecute the case.
If it was up to Foxx, Smollett would never have been tried. After Chicago police arrested and charged Smollett for falsely reporting a hate crime in 2019, Foxx met with Smollett’s family and supporters, then claimed that she was recusing herself from the case because of her contacts with Smollett’s entourage. But she did not recuse her entire office, instead turning supervision of the prosecution over to her top deputy. Though she claimed to have recused herself, she still texted her top deputy that the charges against Smollett were “excessive.” A short time later, Foxx’s office dropped the charges.
But the case wouldn’t go away. Instead, a Cook County judge appointed attorney and former federal prosecutor Dan Webb as a special prosecutor to reexamine the investigation and potential charges against Smollett. (To put this change in Chicago terms, replacing Foxx with Webb in a prosecution is like replacing an uncoordinated 12-year-old with Michael Jordan in a basketball game.) Webb, the co-chairman of powerhouse firm Winston & Strawn, made short work of Smollett. He re-charged the actor with felony offenses, though Smollett persisted in claiming his innocence and victimhood.
After multiple delays caused by the pandemic, Smollett finally faced the justice that Foxx tried to block. He was tried before a jury. The two brothers whom Smollett paid to stage the crime told the jury what really happened. Smollett still took the stand in his own defense and repeated his original lies. In his closing argument, Webb told the jury that the evidence against the actor was “overwhelming” and that Smollett had insulted the jury’s intelligence by lying to them. The jury deliberated for a day before convicting the defendant of five felony offenses. Smollett will receive justice, delayed but deserved.
What about Kim Foxx? She is not a real prosecutor but a de-prosecutor. She lets people who have clearly committed crimes walk free on the streets of Chicago. Smollett is only the tip of the iceberg of Foxx’s incompetence. During her first three years in office, Foxx dropped almost 30 percent of felony charges against criminal defendants, including murders and shootings. If Foxx can’t manage an obvious conviction against a two-bit charlatan like Jussie Smollett, how can she deal effectively with truly violent offenders? No wonder criminals are running free in the Windy City, which has seen over 1,000 homicides this year.
Jussie Smollett has seen real justice in a courtroom. Chicago voters should administer some electoral justice to Kim Foxx.
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