Judge Rules Special Prosecutor Will be Assigned in Smollett Case

Smollett was accused of falsely reporting what police say was a staged racist and anti-gay attack on himself in January in Chicago, but the charges against the actor were later dropped

A judge on Friday ruled a special prosecutor will be assigned to investigate the handling of the Jussie Smollett case in Chicago. 

Judge Michael Toomin ruled in favor of a special prosecutor being appointed in the case after Sheila O'Brien, a former appellate judge, called for an investigation into why charges were dropped against the "Empire" actor by the Cook County State's Attorney's office. 

The ruling state's that a special prosecutor will "conduct an independent investigation of the actions of any person or office involved in all aspects of the case." It notes that "if reasonable grounds exist to further prosecutor Smollett in the interest of justice the special prosecutor may take such action." 

The judge indicated in court that Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx did not have the authority to assign First Assistant State's Attorney Joe Magats to prosecute the case following her recusal. 

"I am pleased that the court agreed there was no conflict of interest here," Foxx said in a statement on the ruling.

"Regarding recusal, I followed the advice and counsel of my then Chief Ethics Officer. In any event, I respectfully disagree with the court's conclusion that, in the absence of any conflict, the appointment of a special prosecutor is required," Foxx's statement continued.

"As always, I remain committed to transparency, justice, and the public safety of the communities we serve," she added.

Smollett was accused of falsely reporting what police say was a staged racist and anti-gay attack on himself in January in Chicago. The charges were dropped in March.

The city of Chicago has released two 911 calls made after ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a racist, homophobic attack. NBC 5’s Patrick Fazio has the latest.

O'Brien previously said she might ask the Illinois Supreme Court to intervene.

Separately, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard is investigating how Smollett's case was handled. 

"I think it will give all of us answers but the most important thing is that, as the judge indicated, the confidence in our judicial system will be restored," O'Brien said. 

When asked why she filed for a special prosecutor in the case, O'Brien said "because it had to be done and no one had done it."

"Somebody had to do it and I had time and a type writer so here we are," she said, later adding that she has "no role after this."

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