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A Big Surprise Turn in Jussie Smollett Case

Special prosecutor to investigate 'unprecedented irregularities,' and Smollett may not be in the clear
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2019 3:35 PM CDT
Actor Jussie Smollett could face charges if any stem from a new investigation.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)
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(Newser) – A judge has ordered that a special prosecutor investigate "the unprecedented irregularities" in prosecutor Kim Foxx's handling of the Jussie Smollett case. And Smollett himself may face new legal trouble as a result. Foxx should have requested a special prosecutor when she recused herself from the case, Judge Michael Toomin wrote in a 21-page order, per the Chicago Sun-Times. Toomin added that Foxx didn't have the power to step down from the case against the actor and turn it over to her deputy anyway. There is no "office of acting state’s attorney," the judge said. "It existed only ... in the imagination of Ms. Foxx." The Cook County State’s Attorney's office then dropped charges against the Empire actor, who had been charged with filing a false police report; Smollet was accused of making up an account of being attacked in Chicago.

All this means Smollett isn't necessarily in the clear after all, TMZ notes. "If reasonable grounds exist to further prosecute Smollett," the judge wrote, that could happen. Chicago police promised to cooperate with the special prosecutor; their union had called for a federal investigation of Foxx's actions. Facts also could come out in civil court: The city sued Smollett to recover money spent on the police investigation, and two brothers who say he hired them to fake an attack filed a defamation suit against his lawyers. Although Foxx issued a statement disagreeing with the call for a special prosecutor, the judge wrote that the criminal case basically became a mess after she stepped down. "There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through unchartered waters," Toomin said. "And it ultimately lost its bearings." (Read more Jussie Smollett stories.)

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