Kim Foxx Deputies Resign in Wake of Jussie Smollett Scandal

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
April 19, 2019USshare
Kim Foxx Deputies Resign in Wake of Jussie Smollett Scandal
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a news conference in Chicago, on Feb. 22, 2019. (Kiichiro Sato/AP Photo)

Two top deputies of Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx have resigned in the wake of the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax scandal.

Smollett, the “Empire” actor, saw all charges against him dropped by Foxx’s office in an unusual agreement that did not require him to admit any wrongdoing.

Instead, the actor claimed the charges being dropped were vindication. He was charged for filing a false police report after officials said he faked a hate crime. Prosecutors said that the charges were dropped despite the case indicating he was guilty.

Now at least two deputies of Foxx have submitted their resignations.

Actor Jussie Smollett talks to the media before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped, Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Actor Jussie Smollett talks to the media before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped, on March 26, 2019, in Chicago. (Paul Beaty/AP Photo)

April Perry, the ethics officer for the office, will leave Foxx’s staff on May 3, along with Mark Rotert, a veteran prosecutor and civil attorney who revamped the process the office used to review wrongful conviction claims, according to resignation letters obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Perry was the staffer who announced that Foxx was recusing herself from the case in a Feb. 13 email to other state’s attorneys in the department after it was revealed Foxx spoke with a relative of Smollett’s shortly after the alleged Jan. 29 attack and before he was charged with filing a false report. Foxx, though, continued to influence the case, later calling her recusal “informal.”

These are the latest in a string of resignations that started about a year ago, a former high-level official in the State Attorney’s Office told CBS Chicago.

The First Assistant State’s Attorney, the head of the Special Prosecutions Bureau, Chief Policy Officer, a Senior Adviser, and a Deputy Policy Adviser all left within the last year and job postings suggest others might be planning to leave in addition to Perry and Rotert.

Irv Miller, a legal analyst who works for CBS, said that the top positions usually change when a new state attorney comes on board, not in the middle of one’s tenure.

The Cook County Inspector General’s Office is investigating Cook’s office for its handling of the Smollett case, reported NBC 5. The report could be completed by the end of the summer.

The resignations came after text messages were made public showing Foxx told assistant prosecutor Joe Magats, who was credited with making the decision to drop all the charges against Smollett, that the 16 felony counts filed against the actor were “excessive.”

“Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should,” she wrote. He responded, “agreed.”

Several weeks later, he dropped all the charges.

Foxx admitted this week that she corresponded with Magats after Perry, the ethics officer, announced that Foxx had recused herself.

Richard Kling, with the Kent School of Law, told NBC 5 that what happened was confusing.

“From reading everything, I don’t think there was an intent to deceive the public,” he said. “I think the public was deceived but I don’t think it was an intentional deception. I think just so much craziness was going on that there were mixed messages.”

But he also said that the turnover isn’t necessarily linked to the Smollett situation.

“Realistically, there’s always people who leave. It will be interesting to get the regular, revolving door. You know there are people who are always coming, who are always leaving, and the fact that Kim Foxx is in the front page right now doesn’t necessarily mean that their leaving has anything to do with it,” Kling told Fox 32. “It may, but we won’t know.”

Perry, Rotert’s supervisor, hasn’t publicly commented on the resignation. Rotert, who submitted his letter the day before the charges were dropped, said the resignation coincided with a planned trip overseas with his wife and the start of fishing season.

“I really felt I was in a unique position because I had been a prosecutor and I had worked in defense … and at the end of the day, when it was all said and done, I was going to go fishing,” Rotert told the Sun-Times. “I am just incredibly proud of the work we did. I think we have a (unit) that really should be a national model.”

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