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CrimeJudge rejects request for judge outside Cook County to decide on special prosecutor for Jussie Smollett case

01:25  18 may  2019
01:25  18 may  2019 Source:   latimes.com

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CHICAGO - A Cook County judge on Friday swatted down a request that a judge from outside the county make the decision whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the abrupt dismissal of charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett . During a long and sometimes

Judge rejects request for judge outside Cook County to decide on special prosecutor for Jussie Smollett case . Actor Jussie Smollett after his court appearance at Leighton Courthouse on March 26, 2019 in The judge set to decide if a special prosecutor will investigate "Empire" actor Jussie

Judge rejects request for judge outside Cook County to decide on special prosecutor for Jussie Smollett case© Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS Actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Court building, after all charges were dropped in his disorderly conduct case on March 26, 2019.

CHICAGO - A Cook County judge on Friday swatted down a request that a judge from outside the county make the decision whether a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate the abrupt dismissal of charges against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.

During a long and sometimes testy hearing, Judge Michael Toomin rejected the request by Sheila O'Brien, a former state appellate judge, saying she had failed to show that Cook County judges would be too prejudiced to make the decision.

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Judge might unseal records in Jussie Smollett case . Jussie Smollett | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times. Judge Steven Watkins said Tuesday he would issue a written ruling around May 23. Judge rejects request for judge outside Cook County to decide on special prosecutor for Jussie Smollett case .

A Cook County , Illinois, judge has ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the controversial decision to drop all charges against Empire actor Jussie Smollett . Judge Michael Toomin ruled Friday that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx could not legally appoint her top deputy to handle

Toomin also denied O'Brien's attempt - hastily written out longhand during the middle of the hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building - to substitute Toomin with another Cook County judge.

Toomin, however, left open the door for O'Brien to file a motion - known as a change of venue - to move the matter outside Cook County or to ask the Illinois Supreme Court to overrule Toomin.

O'Brien strongly hinted during the hearing that she would take her fight to the Supreme Court.

Toomin set a hearing for May 31 on whether he should appoint a special prosecutor. But that proceeding could be delayed or nixed if O'Brien asks the Supreme Court to intervene.

Toomin also tossed out subpoenas that O'Brien had issued for State's Attorney Kim Foxx and her top deputies to produce documents, saying they were premature and she had not adequately proven they were necessary.

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A judge in Illinois' Cook County says a special prosecutor should review the case "to restore the public's confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice A judge has ordered a special prosecutor to look into how the case against actor Jussie Smollett was handled. Smollett is seen here in March

Jussie Smollett Case : Attorney Files Petition Seeking Special Prosecutor . The first formal request has been filed for a special prosecutor after the state’s attorney ’s office dropped all 16 In addition, Mohammed is asking the special prosecutor to look into whether Cook County State’s

Toomin is presiding over the matter after LeRoy Martin Jr., the presiding judge of the Circuit Court's Criminal Division, stepped aside last week from considering the issue. O'Brien had asked Martin to recuse himself, saying he faced a conflict with his son a Cook County prosecutor and Foxx possibly being called as a witness. Martin declined to formally recuse himself but transferred the case to Toomin, saying he did so to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

O'Brien sought the special prosecutor after Foxx faced fierce criticism for her office's dismissal of all charges against Smollett with little explanation less than a month after he was indicted on charges he staged an attack on himself.

In her petition, O'Brien highlighted how Foxx recused herself early in the investigation after communicating with a Smollett relative - only to later claim that it was not a recusal "in the legal sense" that would have required the entire office to withdraw from the prosecution.

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Judge Michael Toomin ruled that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx should have appointed a special A few weeks later, Magats decided to drop all charges against the actor in exchange for the forfeiture of a ,000 bond. State's Attorney Kim Foxx Offers New Explanation for Jussie Smollett Recusal.

A judge appointed a special prosecutor Friday to look into why the Chicago state's attorney 's office abruptly dropped the case against Jussie Smollett , leaving open the possibility that the former "Empire" actor could yet face charges in what police say was a phony attack on himself.

Communications later released to the Chicago Tribune showed Foxx had asked police Superintendent Eddie Johnson to turn over the investigation to the FBI after she was approached by Tina Tchen, a former chief of staff to first lady Michelle Obama.

O'Brien alleged that Foxx's actions created "a perception that justice was not served here, that Mr. Smollett received special treatment."

Both county prosecutors and Smollett's attorneys have said the petition is legally flawed and that a special prosecutor would duplicate efforts already undertaken by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard. At Foxx's request, Blanchard agreed last month to investigate the office's handling of the short-lived Smollett prosecution.

Smollett, who is African American and openly gay, found himself at the center of an international media firestorm after he reported in late January being the victim of an attack by two people shouting racist and homophobic slurs.

But after Chicago police investigated, Smollett was charged with 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.

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