Jussie Smollett update: Special prosecutor finds 'abuses of discretion' in Kim Foxx's handling of 'Empire' actor's case

Webb did not find evidence to support criminal charges against Foxx or anyone in her office

ByLeah Hope and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb said none of his findings rise to the level of criminal charges against Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx or anyone in her office.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Special Prosecutor Dan Webb has released his report Monday into the Jussie Smollett's case and its handling by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

The report said it found evidence of "substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures" on the part of Foxx's office "in prosecuting and resolving the initial Smollett case."

It also said actions by Foxx and other attorneys in her office "may rise to the level of a violation of legal ethics by State's Attorney Foxx and CCSAO lawyers relating to false and/or misleading public statements made about the prosecution or resolution of the initial Smollett case."

However, Webb said he did not find evidence that would support criminal charges against Foxx or anyone working in her office. Webb also found there was no third party influence in any decision making.

READ: Summary of Special Prosecutor Dan Webb's report into handling of Jussie Smollett case

The report says Foxx made false statements about the case and continued to be involved after she had publicly recused herself.

Jussie Smollett case: Timeline of key moments in alleged attack on 'Empire' actor

Webb said in his report that after she made her recusal, Foxx and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office came to the realization that the decision to appoint her assistant Joseph Magats as "Acting State's Attorney" was "legally defective."

Webb said Foxx needed to, "recuse the entire CCSAO and petition the court to appoint a special prosecutor. Instead of implementing the proper legal course to carry out the recusal once this defect was brought to their attention, the CCSAO and State's Attorney Foxx made the decision to ignore this major legal defect seemingly because they did not want to admit that they had made such a major mistake of judgment regarding State's Attorney Foxx's recusal."

The report also said that Foxx made misleading statements on her communications with Jussie Smollett's sister, Jurnee Smollett. Webb said Foxx learned by February 8, 2019 that Jussie Smollett was a suspect in a Chicago police investigation, but continued communicating with his sister Jurnee through February 13, including five text messages and three phone calls.

Webb said Foxx made statements that she stopped communicating with Jussie Smollett's family upon learning he was a suspect.

In response to the report, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office issued a statement saying, "This report puts to rest any implications of outside influence or criminal activity on the part of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (CCSAO) and the Chicago Police Department (CPD). As the report unequivocally confirms, State's Attorney Foxx was not involved in the decision-making process regarding the Jussie Smollett case at any point and there was no outside influence on that process.

"The CCSAO categorically rejects the OSP's characterizations of its exercises of prosecutorial discretion and private or public statements as "abuses of discretion" or false statements to the public. While the release does not say so, any implication that statements made by the CCSAO were deliberately inaccurate is untrue. As a result of the issues addressed in the press release, and of discussions of them beforehand, the CCSAO has already made a number of changes to its operations, including the hiring of a new CCSAO ethics officer and more separation of their function from the administration of the office, and strengthening the recusal plan with clear guidelines and explicit definitions of conflicts of interest.

"When the CCSAO receives the final written report from Special Prosecutor Dan Webb, the CCSAO will provide a written response. Until that time, there will be no further statements on this matter."

Last year the former "Empire" actor told police he was targeted in a racist and homophobic attack. After an investigation, police determined Smollett staged the attack and hired two brothers to help pull it off.

WATCH: Video shows Jussie Smollett with rope around his neck

Police said Smollett staged the attack on himself because he was unhappy with his "Empire" salary.

Last year, Smollett pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct and weeks later, Cook County States Attorney Kim Foxx's office dismissed the case.

Webb was then appointed in August to look into the case, and the way it was handled by Foxx.

Last February, Smollett appeared in court to plead 'not guilty after a grand jury returned a new six-count indictment.

Judge Pat O'Brien, who is a Republican running against Foxx for Cook County State's Attorney in November, issued a statement saying, "This report makes it crystal clear that Kim Foxx engaged in a substantial abuse of discretion by making false statements to the public about this case, breaching the State's Attorney's ethical obligations of honesty and transparency, In light of this report and so many other ethical lapses, Kim Foxx should resign from office."

Smollett's lawyer Mark Geragos also issued a statement, saying, "This so called "report" on Kim Foxx and the timing of the recharging of Jussie reveals the real political electoral motivation of Dan Webb and his cohorts. It's a blatant attempt to take down a black, progressive, female prosecutor who does not fit within the white power structure. Jussie, a black, gay man who maintains his innocence, continues to be used as a pawn. Today's report confirms what the defense has said all along-there was no wrongdoing or undue influence by Jussie or the defense in the dismissal of all charges against him and the second wave of charges is a blatant constitutional violation."

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

Former 'Empire' actor's lawsuit against Chicago dismissed by federal judge

Jussie Smollett, former 'Empire' actor, pleads not guilty to new charges in alleged Chicago attack

Kim Foxx says Jussie Smollett case shouldn't define her record as Cook County State's Attorney

Jussie Smollett update: Kim Foxx backs away from political accusations against special prosecutor after 'Empire' actor re-indicted

Jussie Smollett, former 'Empire' actor, indicted again in connection with alleged Chicago attack

Jussie Smollett case: Judge denies motion to dismiss Chicago lawsuit against 'Empire' actor

Dan Webb appointed special prosecutor in 'Empire' actor's case

'Empire' actor's attorneys argue against special prosecutor, want judge replaced

Chicago police release investigative files, video of alleged staged attack on 'Empire' actor

Judge orders special prosecutor to review Jussie Smollett case

911 calls released of Jussie Smollett reporting alleged attack

Cook Co. State's Attorney's Office releases documents in Jussie Smollett case

Chicago police release 400 pages of Jussie Smollett case files

Kim Foxx receives death threats after Jussie Smollett charges dropped

Kim Foxx's chief spokesperson resigns from State's Attorney's Office

2 top staffers leaving Kim Foxx's State's Attorney's Office

Jussie Smollett update: Kim Foxx's texts and emails raise more questions about recusal

Kim Foxx texts show she thought number of Jussie Smollett charges 'excessive'

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handled

Kim Foxx says 'this is personal' about calls for her to resign

In wake of Jussie Smollett, suburban police chiefs take no confidence stance against State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett case leads to protests for, against Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett's surprise deal raises new questions

What's inside the CPD Jussie Smollett investigative file?

Mayor Emanuel calls decision to drop charges against Smollett 'whitewash of justice'

Charges dropped against 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett

FOP accuses Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx of interfering in Jussie Smollett investigation

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to disorderly conduct charges

Jussie Smollett update: Texts shed light on why State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself

Jussie Smollett update: Brothers 'taken advantage of' by Smollett, attorney says

Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts by grand jury

Brothers reportedly involved in Jussie Smollett alleged hoax release statement expressing 'regret'

Jussie Smollett's check to brothers obtained by ABC News

Jussie Smollett alleged hoax may cast doubt on real hate crimes, advocates fear

Jussie Smollett out on bond after being accused of staging attack

Jussie Smollett charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report, prosecutors say

Cook Co. State's Attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself from Jussie Smollett investigation

Brothers told police Smollett was upset threatening letter didn't get enough attention, staged attack

Activist calls for Smollett's arrest, believes actor lied about attack

Brothers tell police that Jussie Smollett paid them to stage attack, official says

Sources: Police investigating whether Smollett staged attack with help of others

Timeline of key moments in alleged attack on Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett breaks silence on Chicago attack

'Empire' actor's family releases statement on attack, pictures of possible persons of interest released

Photos show potential persons of interest in 'Empire' actor attack, police say

'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett attacked in Chicago in possible hate crime, police say