Last Thursday, about 400 pages worth of documents were released by the Chicago police concerning the Jussie Smollett case after the judge ordered the documents be unsealed. Additionally, the office of Kim Foxx, Cook County State’s Attorney, released over 2,000 pages on the case on Friday. Back in March, the case against the Empire actor was dropped after he had been charged with 16 counts of felony due to allegedly falsifying a hate crime attack.
The documents that were released Friday showed messages between Foxx and those related to the case, such as staff and other prosecutors, discussing her recusal. In a message to Jennifer Ballard Croft, her chief of staff, Foxx also allegedly called the statement on Feb. 19 regarding her recusal “bulls—t.”
According to Foxx, she withdrew from the case due to the unfounded rumors she was related to Smollett. Foxx claimed that her chief ethics officer, April Perry, urged her to recuse, and that her spokeswoman, Kiera Ellis, concurred. Both Perry and Ellis have also since resigned from their positions, according to Variety.
“April told me I had to do it,” Foxx had said. “There were rumors she claims that I was related to or closely connected to the Smolletts. I told her that wasn’t true. She said it was pervasive among CPD and that I should recuse. I thought it was dumb but acquiesced. It’s actually just racist.”
What is leading some to suspicion is the fact that Foxx only recused herself and not her entire office. Rather, she gave all of her responsibilities over to her first assistant Joe Magats. If Foxx had recused her entire office, then a special prosecutor would have been appointed over the case. However, despite her recusal, the new documents revealed that Foxx was still involved in the case. According to Deadline, Foxx allegedly texted a deputy after allegedly recusing from the case: “Sooo …… I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases … 16 counts on a class 4 becomes exhibit A.” Magats responded with, “Yes. I can see where that can be seen as excessive,” 18 days after which the case was dropped.
Additionally, she had also allegedly refuted a prior claim that she had made back in February, according to the newly released documents. As Foxx claims, she removed herself from the case due to the rumors that she was related to Smollett. However, back in February, the documents revealed that she claimed to have relinquished her role because allegedly she had spoken with a relative of Smollett concerning the investigation. Friday, Foxx defended this discussion with one of Smollett’s relatives, stating that “I did not have a conflict of interest in this case; only a sincere desire to serve the community.” Foxx went on to say: “I spoke with Mr. Smollett’s family and others while he was still considered to be the victim of a hate crime in an effort to streamline the case and alleviate any concerns about the integrity of the investigation. False rumors circulated that I was related or somehow connected to the Smollett family, so I removed myself from all aspects of the investigation and prosecution and delegated my authority and responsibility to my first assistant so as to avoid even the perception of a conflict.”
Although the sixth and last season of Empire will air next fall, it seems likely that Smollett’s character will not return.