Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly “Kim” M. Foxx recused herself from the Jussie Smollet case in February pointing to a possible conflict based on her knowing a potential witness.
On Tuesday March 26, it was reported that the Foxx’s office closed its case against the ‘Empire’ actor and Smollet’s lawyers announced that the dismissal is a vindication of their client, who they described as a victim.
CBS Chicago reported that the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office said in a statement, “After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case.”
And it’s reported a judge has ordered the case files sealed.
In a statement last month, Foxx, 36, said her decision to take herself off the high-profile case was to “address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnessed in the case.”
But some asked to what witnesses specifically is she referring and what is her connection. Others, however, are saying that the county’s top prosecutor is displaying integrity and it should be left at that.
But the twisting and turning controversial Smollet case has led to more questions than answers.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. ‘Empire’ Actor Jussie Smollet Said 2 Masked ‘MAGA’ Men Attacked Him & Put a Noose Around His Neck in a Homophobic Assault. That Story Has Unraveled But Now the Case is Dropped
Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon on “Empire,” is gay. His detailed account of the attack was not supported by evidence, police said. Smollet claimed he was jumped in downtown Chicago in late January by two men in masks who shouted racist and gay slurs including, “This is MAGA country!” He said the assailants placed a noose around his neck and doused him with some substance and then took off.
Smollet received tremendous support on social media from myriad public figures and appeared on talk shows to tell his story.
Weeks later, police picked up brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo, both are actors who have appeared in the show.
It’s been reported that Smollet hired them for a staged attack. Smollet through his lawyer has denied this allegation. The case headed to a grand jury and charges were filed.
A month later, all chagres were dropped.
2. Foxx Said She’s Stepping Away to Avoid a Conflict of Interest. She Spoke at ‘Raising Our Voices: Supporting More Women in Hollywood & Politics’
According to NBC Chicago, a spokesperson for Foxx emailed a statement that read, “Out of an abundance of caution, the decision to recuse herself was made to address potential questions of impartiality based upon familiarity with potential witnesses in the case.” No other explanation was offered, it was reported.
Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats will take over the Smollet case.
Meanwhile, some want specifics on why she’s stepped away.
“She definitely should explain… and the fact that she feels she doesn’t owe the people who elected her an explanation is a problem for me,” one wrote on the Fox32 Chicago Facebook post.
But others say she’s doing the right thing and caution that there should be no “rush to judge.”
“If Kim Foxx says it’s a conflict of interest why not take her word, she must have her reason. If she had stayed on the case and later the media found there was a conflict they would be calling for her to step down. Don’t rush to judge until all the facts are in,” one commented.
Another wrote, “It’s called professional INTEGRITY??? I know in this political climate that’s a strange concept. I praise her for not compromising the investigation if there is a personal connection…”
Foxx was a speaker at the EMILY’s List-sponsored Raising Our Voices: Supporting More Women in Hollywood & Politics forum in Los Angeles Tuesday. She was among Hollywood actors including Amber Tamblyn and Olivia Munn.
3. Foxx is the First African-American Female Cook County State’s Attorney
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country.
According to her bio, Foxx, who took office in December of 2016, had a “vision for transforming the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office into a fairer, more forward-thinking agency focused on rebuilding the public trust, promoting transparency, and being proactive in making all communities safe.”
The official biography on Foxx reads that she’s “undertaken substantial reform.”
Foxx’s accomplishments include overhauling the state’s attorney’s office’s “Conviction Integrity Unit, resulting in overturned convictions in over 20 cases, including the first-ever mass exoneration in Cook County for 15 men whose convictions stemmed from misconduct by a Chicago police officer.”
Foxx is credited with being a “leader in bond (bail) reform, instructing prosecutors to agree to recognizance bonds where appropriate, and reviewing bond decisions in cases where people are detained because they are unable to pay bonds of $1,000 or less. And, she’s “taken the lead on prioritizing resources away from low-level offenses, including raising the threshold for approving felony charges for retail theft to $1,000, and declining to prosecute misdemeanor traffic offenses for failure to pay tickets and fines.”
4. Foxx Has a Long History in Cook County & Has Advocated For Children & Justice System Reform. She Urged R. Kelly Victims Step Forward
Foxx served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for more than a decade and was a guardian ad litem; an attorney advocating for children navigating the child welfare system.
Before her election as state’s attorney in 2016, she was the Chief of Staff for the Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
According to her bio on the Cook County website, “she was the lead architect of the county’s criminal justice reform agenda to address racial disparities in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.”
Foxx went on local Chicago TV to talk about the R. Kelly investigation and to request alleged victims to step forward.
“…watching and listening to the women who said they were survivors, it was heartbreaking. It was sickening.”
5. Foxx is a Chicago Native & SIU Law School Graduate. As a Child, She Was Sexually Assaulted & Lived in Poverty
Born Kim Anderson on Chicago’s Near North Side, she grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing projects, raised by her mother Gennell Wilson sans her father, a now-commercial actorit’s reported. But the family fell on seriously hard times and barely avoided homelessness despite her and her mother working, the Chicago Reader reported in 2016.
During her campaign for the office she now holds, she said she pulled herself up from one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. As a child, she was sexually assaulted and while her family lived in poverty, her mother “slept on the floor” so Kim had a bed to sleep in, she said
She graduated from Lincoln Park High School and went on to Southern Illinois University, where she earned a degree in political science. Foxx earned her J.D. from the Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1997.
She is married to Kelley Foxx and the couple has two daughters.