Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx is defending herself against claims and questions that have stumped the nation as to why Jussie Smollett was able to avoid prosecution against a 16-count grand jury indictment in a shocking about-face by the prosecution’s office.
Because of the dropped charges, the FBI and the Department of Justice are said to be investigating what happened that led the Cook County prosecutors to absolve Smollett of all charges in connection with an alleged fake crime hoax attack that the Empire star was charged with orchestrating on Jan. 29.
Foxx, who recused herself from the case, is under fire for fielding calls from Smollett’s family and a powerful friend, Tina Tchen, who was Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff.
Foxx spoke to NPR station WBEZ and defended her office’s decision, saying that “we have to be driven by facts.” And based on the facts, a conviction against Smollett wasn’t likely.
“You know, I think that there is a lot of confusion,” she explained. “For people who do this work every day, who recognize what the charges are — this is a Class 4 felony — we recognize that the likelihood that someone would get a prison sentence for a Class 4 felony is slim,” she said.
Adding: “I think it has opened an opportunity for us to have conversations around what does justice look like.”
Foxx also said there are alternative options that fall outside of prosecution, which she said is not something understood by many.
“It’s a hard thing for people to process,” she said.
It may be hard for people to process, likely because the average Joe defending against a crime, isn’t offered those options by prosecutors regularly.
She continued: “I think it has opened an opportunity for us to have conversations around what does justice look like. Because I think what I’ve noticed in the last 24 hours is that concept of justice that we grapple with every day — there is no consistency even among the public of what that looks like.”
Foxx does realize that her decision has likely strained her relationship with the Chicago Police Department and especially the police chief who was outraged at her office’s decision to drop the charges.
“It does boggle the mind that, of the tens of thousands of cases that our office handles every year, that this is somehow emblematic of a relationship issue between ourselves and the police. We have said, and I will say to you, they worked very diligently on this case and that this was not a question about their abilities.
But every single day on cases that law enforcement partners work diligently on, there are people who get similar arrangements, people who get diversion, people who get sentences that are probably not what some people would want. Every single day. And I don’t believe it is in the interest of the people of Cook County to engage in a narrative that is anything other than all of us working collectively for the public safety of the people of Cook County.”
As for those who believe that Smollett should have stood in a court of law and addresses the charges against him, Foxx said:
“Not every case that goes to trial has a finding of guilt. And so the assumption, the presumption that if we had taken this case to trial that he would have been found guilty and therefore the justice would have been served — what happens to those who are found not guilty?
“In this instance, Mr. Smollett forfeited his $10,000 bond. Mr. Smollett completed community service, and how he chooses to spin why he did those things — what I can tell you is that most people who come through the criminal justice system don’t give up $10,000 of their hard-earned money or engage in volunteer services connected with an alleged offense without viewing that as a way of being held accountable.”
Read the full interview here.