Megan Crepeau, Chicago Tribune, March 29, 2019
National and state prosecutors’ associations have blasted the Cook County state’s attorney’s office for its handling of the Jussie Smollett case, with an Illinois group saying Kim Foxx “has failed in her most fundamental ethical obligations to the public.”
The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association said the dismissal of the charges — without any admission of guilt by Smollett — was “an affront to prosecutors across the state” as well as police, victims of hate crimes and the county as a whole.
While not mentioning Foxx by name, the National District Attorneys Association’s statement on “best practices” said a prosecutor should not take “advice from politically connected friends of the accused,” should not recuse herself without recusing the entire office and noted that “a case with the consequential effects of Mr. Smollett’s should not be resolved without a finding of guilt or innocence.”
“The case in Chicago illustrates a point that must be discussed in an effort to ensure fairness in our criminal justice system: the rich are treated differently, the politically connected receive favorable treatment, and Lady Justice sometimes peeks under her blindfold to see who stands before her,” said the statement from the national group.
The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association cited similar concerns and noted the “appearance of impropriety” was magnified when Smollett’s charges were suddenly dismissed at a last-minute hearing with no advance public notice.
Hints from top Cook County prosecutors that Smollett’s arrangement was part of a formal deferred prosecution program were “plainly misleading and inaccurate,” the group said.
“Central to any diversion program, however, is that the defendant must accept responsibility,” the group said.
“Through the repeated misleading and deceptive statements to the public on Illinois law and circumstances surrounding the Smollett dismissal, the State’s Attorney has failed in her most fundamental ethical obligations to the public,” the state group said.