Just hours after Jussie Smollett was indicted on new charges related to the alleged January 29, 2019 early morning attack on the streets of Chicago, the former Empire actor’s lawyer lashed out at the Special Prosecutor and the Windy City’s cops for angling for political leverage.
“After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett,” said Tina Glandian today as her client is headed back to court on February 24 to face six counts of disorderly conduct from a grand jury. “Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence,” the attorney added as her client could be looking at renewed jail time if found guilty.
“The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice,” Glandian states. (Read the full statement from Smollett’s lawyer below).
Incumbent Kim Foxx’s office suddenly dropped and sealed all charges against Smollett last March as the actor who portrayed Jamel Lyon on the Fox series was facing nearly 50 years in state prison if convicted on all 16 criminal counts.
Already tossed off Empire, Smollett over the last year has fought an ongoing and politically invoked lawsuit from the city itself over the initial Chicago Police Department probe into the claimed hate crime, challenges from the once “persons of interest” Osundairo brothers and the steady release of what were once sealed document and material. In August 2019, the actor’s troubles intensified as a state judge appointed ex-U.S. Attorney Dan Webb as special prosecutor to find out what happened in the case.
Facing an intense blowback from the CPD and other state and city officials over her office’s handling of the matter, Foxx is up against former Chicago alderman Bob Fioretti and former prosecutors Bill Conway and Donna More in the close March 17 Democratic primary. Whoever wins that race will take the Cook County State’s Attorney role in the heavily Democratic region.
Certainly, the contenders aren’t hiding taking an opportunity to use the latest legal move to their respective advantages.
“Now we know why Kim Foxx has refused to talk about the case,” More said Tuesday after the indictment was made public. “The Special Prosecutor’s decision is evidence that she was unlawfully influenced by calls from influential politicians and celebrities when she dismissed 16 felony counts against Jussie Smollett. This can no longer be considered just an error in judgment or a disappointing lack of transparency. There may be significant wrongdoing on the part of the State’s Attorney.”
Endorsed by the still influential Chicago Sun-Times, Foxx recused herself from the Smollett case early on in the process – a move that opened her up to heavy criticism, as Foxx herself has repeatedly acknowledged in recent months.
“The reasons Kim Foxx should resign are many,” rival Fioretti told local media today. “It is a race between corruption, incompetence and personal dishonesty to decide which is worse in her office.”
“The State’s Attorney’s handling of the Smollett case shook the faith of Cook County residents in the justice system,” the ex city official added. “It makes people wonder why celebrities get special treatment when we are all supposed to be equal under the law. They also wonder how their State’s Attorney can get away with lying to the public.”
Those harsh words are pretty standard stuff in the city that ward bosses and the Daley crew ruled with an iron fist for decades. However, even as the Chicago filmed Lee Daniels and Danny Strong created Empire is about to come to an end on Fox after six sometimes blockbuster seasons, Hollywood has truly become part of the politics of the State’s Attorney race.
“What’s concerned me about this case since the beginning is that a connected, Hollywood celebrity got a sweetheart deal that residents of Cook County do not get,” Bill Conway scathingly proclaimed this afternoon. “It seems that not only does the special prosecutor agree, but that Kim Foxx could provide him no evidence to the contrary,” the ex-prosecutor continued. “While I’m disappointed that she has repeatedly lied to the public about this matter, I want to assure the residents of Cook County that as State’s Attorney I will fight for everyone, regardless of who you know or what zip code you’re from.”
To quote The Untouchables, “that’s the Chicago way!”
READ THE FULL STATEMENT FROM JUSSIE SMOLLETT’S LAWYER TINA GLANDIAN HERE:
This indictment raises serious questions about the integrity of the investigation that led to the renewed charges against Mr. Smollett, not the least of which is the use of the same CPD detectives who were part of the original investigation into the attack on Mr. Smollett to conduct the current investigation, despite Mr. Smollett’s pending civil claims against the City of Chicago and CPD officers for malicious prosecution. And one of the two witnesses who testified before the grand jury is the very same detective Mr. Smollett is currently suing for his role in the initial prosecution of him.
After more than five months of investigation, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has not found any evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever related to the dismissal of the charges against Mr. Smollett. Rather, the charges were appropriately dismissed the first time because they were not supported by the evidence. The attempt to re-prosecute Mr. Smollett one year later on the eve of the Cook County State’s Attorney election is clearly all about politics not justice.