Judge in Smollett case rules to keep Dan Webb as special prosecutor after concerns of possible conflict of interest

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ByLeah Hope via WLS logo
Friday, October 4, 2019
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A Chicago judge ruled on Friday to keep Dan Webb as the special prosecutor investigating the decision by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago judge ruled on Friday to keep Dan Webb as the special prosecutor investigating the decision by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

Judge Michael Toomin found no indication that the former U.S. attorney "harbors any bias" following concerns that Webb has a possible conflict of interest.

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

The concerns emerged after Webb disclosed that he hosted a fundraiser for Foxx in 2016. Court documents also revealed a $1,000 donation was made in Webb's name to Foxx's campaign that year.

Webb told the judge he didn't recall any contact with Foxx. He said he only became aware of the contribution after Foxx's attorney contacted him last week.

Last month, Webb was assigned to investigate Foxx's decision to dismiss felony charges against Smollett, who's accused of staging an attack on himself.

WATCH: Video shows Jussie Smollett with rope around his neck

Smollett was charged with staging the attack in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood in January. Police and prosecutors said Smollett orchestrated the attack with the help of two brothers. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.

All charges against Smollett were dropped in late February in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.

In court on Friday, Sheila O'Brien, a retired judge who asked for the Smollett case to get a thorough look, said that perception is important in this public integrity case. But she stopped short of recommending the judge find another special prosecutor.

In the end, Judge Toomin acknowledged that political contributions are common from attorneys.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office released a statement on the court's ruling Friday, saying that "public trust is paramount to our work."

The office said it'll "continue to fully cooperate with the special prosecutor as he reviews this matter."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Previous coverage:

Jussie Smollett case: Documents show special prosecutor Dan Webb made donation to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett case: PR firm says 'every iota' of 'Empire' actor's claim true; police differ

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

Jussie Smollett case: Hearing held on Chicago's lawsuit against 'Empire' actor

'Empire' filming in Chicago near Jussie Smollett alleged attack site

Jussie Smollett: Judge dismisses motions by 'Empire' actor's attorneys

Jussie Smollett: Attorneys decline special prosecutor role in actor's case, report says

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

Jussie Smollett's attorneys argue for Chicago lawsuit to be moved to federal court

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

Lee Daniels says Jussie Smollett not returning for final season of 'Empire'

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

Chicago police release 400 pages of Jussie Smollett case files

Judge rules to unseal records in Jussie Smollett case

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