The Latest: Prosecutors group blasts Smollett case handling
CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on the Jussie Smollett case (all times local):
The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has issued a blistering critique of how Cook County prosecutors went about dropping all charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett over his report of a racist, anti-gay attack.
A Thursday statement says Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Fox and her representatives “have fundamentally misled the public on the law and circumstances surrounding the dismissal.”
It said the approach “was abnormal and unfamiliar” to those in criminal law in Illinois.
Foxx this week has defended her staff’s work, saying the Smollett case was handled how it would have been for anyone with no criminal record. Her office didn’t have an immediate comment about the group’s comments.
The association also pointed to apparent secrecy around a Tuesday hearing where charges were dropped, saying it added to an “appearance of impropriety.”
A city official says Chicago is seeking $130,000 from “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his reported beating, which police say was staged.
Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city government’s legal department, confirmed the amount Thursday, hours after Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city would try to recoup the money it spent on the investigation.
Cook County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped all of the charges against Smollett, who was accused of lying to police about being the victim of a homophobic and racist attack in downtown Chicago on Jan. 29.
Emanuel and the police department blasted the decision to drop the charges, saying they stand by their belief that Smollett hired two friends to help him stage the attack because he was unhappy about his salary and wanted publicity.
Smollett has maintained throughout that he is innocent.
Jussie Smollett’s attorney says his defense team won’t ask for any records to be destroyed in the “Empire” actor’s case.
Patricia Brown Holmes said Thursday that Smollett’s defense team supports “the court files being preserved” in the now-sealed criminal case that accused the actor of filing a false police report.
Cook County prosecutors offered little explanation when they dropped felony charges against the actor on Tuesday. But they still insist the actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in January.
During a court hearing earlier Thursday, Cook County Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. said there was “no possibility” the records related to Smollett’s case would be destroyed. He said: “In Cook County, we don’t destroy records.”
Prosecutors said during the hearing that they’d notify media outlets if Smollett’s lawyers try to expunge his record. Holmes said Smollett “has not and will not file a motion for destruction of any records.”
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city plans to try to recoup the money it spent on the Jussie Smollett investigation from the “Empire” actor himself.
Emanuel spoke Thursday on WGN radio, saying the Chicago Police Department is figuring out how much money it spent investigating Smollett’s allegation that he was the victim of a racial and homophobic attack.
The mayor says once city attorneys finalize the number, the city will contact Smollett and his attorneys.
Prosecutors offered little explanation and infuriated Chicago’s police chief and mayor when they dropped felony charges that alleged Smollett made a false police report.
Prosecutors still insist the actor faked the attack. Smollett says the attack was real.
Emanuel called the decision to drop the case “a whitewash of justice.” He told WGN radio that taxpayers should get their resources back. Emanuel says if Smollett makes the payment, it would be “a small way of” acknowledging guilt.
The ex-chief of staff for former first lady Michelle Obama says she approached Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx regarding the Jussie Smollett case on behalf of the actor’s family.
Tina Tchen released a statement Wednesday saying she’s a friend of Smollett’s family and knows Foxx “from prior work together.”
Tchen says her “sole activity” was to put the prosecutor in touch with “an alleged victim’s family.” Tchen says the Smollett family “had concerns about how the investigation was being characterized in public.”
Email and text messages that Foxx’s office provided to the Chicago Sun-Times show Tchen contacted Foxx to set up a telephone conversation with a Smollett relative. Foxx told the Sun-Times the relative expressed concerns over leaked information.
Foxx on Wednesday told the Chicago Tribune she regretted dealing with the Smollett relative in the investigation’s early phases.
Prosecutors say they will notify media outlets if Jussie Smollett’s lawyers try to expunge the “Empire” actor’s record in a now-sealed criminal case that accused him of filing a false police report.
Prosecutors made the promise during a Chicago court hearing with media attorneys on Thursday, two days after they infuriated Chicago’s police chief and mayor by abruptly dropping the 16 felony counts against Smollett.
Prosecutors still insist the actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in January but have offered little explanation as to why they dropped the case and wiped his record from public view.
Lawyers for major news outlets including The Associated Press told the judge Thursday that court proceedings haven’t been transparent and that “the public is entitled to know what happened.”
Judge LeRoy Martin says court proceedings followed the law, adding: “There’s no nefariousness.”
President Donald Trump says the FBI and Department of Justice will review the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago.
Prosecutors offered little explanation and infuriated Chicago’s police chief and mayor this week when they dropped charges against Smollett related to making a false police report. Yet prosecutors still insist the actor faked a racist, anti-gay attack on himself in January.
Trump tweeted early Thursday: “FBI & DOJ to review the outrageous Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. It is an embarrassment to our Nation!”
Smollett’s attorney says two brothers who claim they worked with the actor to stage the attack are lying. Investigators alleged Smollett staged the attack with the hopes of gaining attention and advancing his career.
Check out the AP’s complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case