Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has had enough!
The Chicago prosecutor, who was recently thrust into the spotlight for her roles in the R. Kelly and Jussie Smollett cases respectively, took to the city’s newspaper – the ‘Chicago Tribune’ – to lend an op-ed (opinion editorial) on the scrutiny her office has faced since unexpectedly dropping all charges against the ‘Empire’ star (click here to read more).
Some of the most reported criticism has come from her very own colleagues including chief officials from the Windy City like the police superintendent (Eddie Johnson) and mayor (Rahm Emanuel). In addition to responding to both as well as President Trump‘s announcement of soliciting a review from the FBI and Department of Justice (click here to read that), Foxx lent a detailed explanation about her decision to cease criminal prosecution of the actor/singer and was sure to emphasize that the 36-year-old was never ‘exonerated.’
Read more from her think piece inside:
Via Chicago Tribune:
Let’s talk about the Jussie Smollett case. Let’s talk about his alleged actions, the decision about how best to prosecute and resolve the case, and the implications for our Chicagoland community.
There was considerable evidence, uncovered in large part due to the investigative work of the Chicago Police Department, suggesting that portions of Smollett’s claims may have been untrue and that he had direct contact with his so-called attackers. Claims by Smollett or others that the outcome of this case has “exonerated” him or that he has been found innocent are simply wrong. He has not been exonerated; he has not been found innocent.
So, why isn’t Smollett in prison or at least on trial? There are two different answers to this, both equally important.
First, the law. There were specific aspects of the evidence and testimony presented to the office that would have made securing a conviction against Smollett uncertain. In determining whether or not to pursue charges, prosecutors are required to balance the severity of the crime against the likelihood of securing a conviction. For a variety of reasons, including public statements made about the evidence in this case, my office believed the likelihood of securing a conviction was not certain.
In the interest of full transparency, I would prefer these records be made public. However, in this case, Illinois law allows defendants in certain circumstances to request that public records remain sealed. Smollett chose to pursue that avenue, and so my office is barred from releasing those records without his approval.
Another key factor is that the crime here was a Class 4 felony, the least serious category, which also covers things like falsely pulling a fire alarm in school and “draft card mutilation.” These felonies are routinely resolved, particularly in cases involving suspects with no prior criminal record, long before a case ever nears a courtroom and often without either jail time or monetary penalties. Any prosecutor, law-enforcement leader or elected official not grandstanding or clouded by political expediency understands the purpose of sentencing guidelines.
But more important than the dispassionate legal justification, there was another reason that I believe our decision not to prosecute the case was the right one.
Yes, falsely reporting a hate crime makes me angry, and anyone who does that deserves the community’s outrage. But, as I’ve said since before I was elected, we must separate the people at whom we are angry from the people of whom we are afraid. Since it seems politically expedient right now to question my motives and actions, and those of my office, let me state publicly and clearly that I welcome an outside, nonpolitical review of how we handled this matter.
As a public figure, Smollett’s alleged unstable actions have probably caused him more harm than any court-ordered penance could. None of that, though, should detract from two facts that must be able to coexist: First, falsely reporting a hate crime is a dangerous and unlawful act, and Smollett was not exonerated of that in this case. Second, our criminal justice system is at its best when jails are used to protect us from the people we rightly fear, while alternative outcomes are reserved for the people who make us angry but need to learn the error of their ways without seeing their lives irrevocably destroyed.
Click here to read the piece in full.
[photo source: Getty Images]