A special prosecutor tasked with reinvestigating the case against Jussie Smollett has found that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office did not violate the law in its handling of the case but did abuse its discretion in deciding to drop charges and put out false or misleading public statements about why they did so.
The findings published in a news release on Monday conclude the investigation by the special prosecutor, Dan K. Webb, who was appointed last year after a judge ruled that the state’s attorney, Kim Foxx, had not properly handled the Smollett case the first time. In February, Mr. Webb announced that a grand jury had revived the criminal case against Mr. Smollett, indicting him on charges that he lied to the police in connection with an alleged hate crime attack against him.
The second part of Mr. Webb’s investigation involved determining whether any person or office engaged in wrongdoing while handling the Smollett case. In the news release, Mr. Webb’s office said that it unearthed evidence that supports “substantial abuses of discretion and operational failures” by the state’s attorney’s office in prosecuting the initial case in 2019.
Mr. Webb’s office found that lawyers who work in the office’s criminal division were “surprised” or “shocked” by the terms under which prosecutors dropped the charges against Mr. Smollett, just a month after his arrest.
In explaining its decision to drop the charges, the special prosecutor found that the state’s attorney’s office “breached its obligations of honesty and transparency” by making false statements such as its claim that Mr. Smollett was just one of thousands of defendants whose case had been referred for alternative prosecution. The state’s attorney’s office could not identify any specific cases on which it relied in deciding to drop the case against Mr. Smollett, the special prosecutor said.
The special prosecutor’s office is asking a judge to allow it to release its full summary of its final conclusions. Ms. Foxx, whose office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, is up for re-election this fall.