Chicago, IL – Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was subpoenaed to appear in court Friday to discuss who is paying outside attorneys that she has hired to defend her office.
The matter before the court is whether Foxx should be using state funds to defend herself in connection with her handling of the Jussie Smollett case in 2019, WGN reported.
Foxx retained some legal heavy hitters to represent her office in the probe into its handling of the former “Empire” actor’s case and she’s handed the tab to the city, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.
She hired former Northern District of Illinois Chief Judge Ruben Castillo of the Akerman Law Firm to represent her office.
And Foxx also hired Michael Bromwich, the attorney who represented Christine Blasey Ford at the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for now-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brent Kavanaugh, to represent her personally, Crain’s Chicago Business reported.
Retired Appellate Judge Sheila O’Brien, who led the effort to have a special prosecutor assigned to investigate the state’s attorney’s office’s handling of the Smollett investigation, brought that matter of Foxx’s legal fees to the court’s attention, WTTW reported.
O’Brien filed a petition for a writ of mandamus on Jan. 16 and asked Cook County Judge Michael Toomin to intervene and stop Foxx from using public funds to pay the attorneys defending her handling of Smollett’s case.
She has asked Toomin to issue a “cease and desist” order to Foxx, according to WTTW.
“The hiring of outside counsel in defense of the Office of State’s Attorney is not provided by the Illinois statutes,” O’Brien wrote in her motion. “Kim Foxx, in her role as State’s Attorney, has a clear duty to comply with the Illinois statutes.”
Smollett was charged with six new counts of disorderly conduct on Tuesday for filing false police reports in connection with a faux hate attack he allegedly planned and executed on himself in January of 2019, WBBM reported.
The new indictment happened just one month after a Cook County judge ordered Google to turn over copious amount of information from the accounts Smollett and his manager and five months after the special prosecutor began his investigation.
The special prosecutor said in his statement about the indictment that his office “obtained sufficient factual evidence to determine that it disagrees with how the [Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office] resolved the Smollett case,” WBBM reported.
Webb said the prosecutor’s office had not been able to provide evidence that Smollett’s case had been handled similarly to other cases when the charges were dropped, which was the excuse that Foxx provided at the time.
Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
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.
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.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin said that Foxx was right to recuse herself from Smollett’s trial after she asked Commissioner Johnson to turn over the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after talking to Tchen, but that she did not have the authority to appoint her second-in-command to the prosecution in her stead, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Texts obtained by public records requests showed that Foxx herself called the Cook County Prosecutor’s Office’s excuse for withdrawing from the case “bulls–t,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Toomin gave the special prosecutor a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
Smollett is due to appear in court on Webb’s charges on Feb. 24, WFLD reported.
Foxx has said she agreed that Webb had the basis for the new charges against Smollett but it was her office’s disposition of those charges that was in dispute.