A high-profile former U.S. Attorney was appointed special prosecutor Friday morning to re-examine the Jussie Smollett case and why charges were abruptly dropped against him.
Dan Webb was picked to lead the second look at the notorious false report case — including whether new charges should be brought against the “Empire” actor — by Judge Michael Toomin during a hearing in a Chicago criminal court.
Toomin ruled back in June the case was rife with “unprecedented irregularities” and needed a special prosecutor to restore the public’s faith in the justice system.
Smollett, who is black and openly gay, claimed earlier this year he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. But his story quickly fell apart after police determined he’d paid two brothers to stage the attack.
About a month after Smollett was arrested on 16 counts of felony disorderly conduct for filing a police report, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx quietly, dropped all charges against the actor with little explanation, angering cops and other city officials.
A former state appellate judge, Sheila O’Brien, sought the special prosecutor following the decision. Toomin sided with her in a somewhat unexpected ruling when he determined Foxx had mishandled the case.
Early in the investigation, Foxx announced she was recusing herself from the probe because she had exchanged text messages with a member of Smollett’s family and promised to help them.
But instead of removing her entire office from the probe, Foxx just appointed her top deputy Joe Magats to act in her stead. It was a move Toomin determined invalidated the entire case from beginning to end.
Webb has been instructed by Toomin to investigate Foxx’s decision and Smollett’s alleged crimes, which could bring new charges against the actor and anyone else involved with the case.
Smollett’s lawyers previously slammed the ruling and called the case a “travesty of justice.”