Thursday, April 18, 2019

Will Foxx wind up paying politically for her attempt to do the “right” thing?

The Chicago Tribune gave us a disclosure this week with regards to the criminal charges eventually dismissed against actor Jussie Smollett – hinting that it was an act of legal overkill by officials to seek 16 criminal counts against him for his alleged “lies” to police about a racially-motivated attack against himself.
FOXX: Two-day gaffe becomes lifelong screwup

The newspaper managed to get ahold of text messages within the Cook County state’s attorney’s office – and found a message from State’s Attorney Kim Foxx herself.

ONE THAT SAID Foxx thought Smollett was just a “washed up celeb who lied to cops,” and that, “when people accuse us of overcharging cases, … 16 counts on a class 4 (felony, the least severe type) becomes exhibit A.”

Implying that Foxx, in her own mind, thinks she’s protecting the public from legal overkill – prosecutorial-types wanting to lock up everybody in sight they can get ahold of.

There’s just one problem with this line of logic – and it applies even if you fully buy into the notion that Smollett was being victimized by law enforcement-types in this whole matter; which ties back to a January incident where the actor filed a complaint with police saying he was the victim of an assault with racial overtones.

As though he, as both a black and gay man, was the one being persecuted – first by two bigoted thugs (who supposedly put a noose around his neck while telling him “This is MAGA Country”), then by cops and prosecutors who were eager to make him out to be the criminal.

IT WAS ONE of the first rules I had pumped into my head over and over back in the days when I was a cop-type reporter for the old City News Bureau. Police DON’T file criminal charges against people.

Prosecutors do!

Police make arrests, and their investigations provide the basis for the state’s attorney to file criminal charges against people. But there are cases when police arrest someone, and the resulting charges don’t match up with the severity that police think is warranted.

So if this really was a case where Smollett was grossly overcharged, it was Foxx’ own staff that did the overcharging.

THIS MAY BE the biggest reason why it is absurd that the criminal case against Smollett was closed and the records sealed. Because the lack of information creates so much uncertainty about what is really going on.

Personally, I have no problem in believing that the charges had to be dropped because of some legal error that would have made getting a criminal conviction that would stand up under legal appeals impossible to obtain.

But if what we’re learning from text messages is true, it was the state’s attorney’s office itself that seriously screwed up. Which makes all the secrecy nothing more than a matter of covering up the ineptitude of the state’s attorney’s office.

The problem, however, is that some people want to believe the criminal case – which to me always stunk!

YES, THE IDEA of a racial attack that included the rhetoric implying this Age of Trump was to blame was just TOO perfect to be believable. Truth usually isn’t that clean or perfectly set up. I can comprehend why police heard the story early on and thought it was worthy of closer inspection.

But this whole affair would have a better chance of dying down if prosecutors had admitted it was their own overkill. We’d have had a day or two of taking pot shots at Kim Foxx’ reputation, then we’d get bored and move on to the next so-called controversy.

Instead, this issue is going to linger and there will be people determined to use it against Foxx when she seeks re-election in 2020. It may well become the lede of her obituary when the day comes that her life’s legacy needs to be written. Foxx, who botched Smollett investigation, dies, it will read. Or something like that!

Of course, the real issue is that many people are offended that Smollett gets off without prosecution. As though real justice would have been served by allowing an overkill of legality to proceed. And Foxx, who may really believe she was trying to do the “right” thing, winds up getting taken down as a result.


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