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Like an episode of Veep, only real life

Wednesday, Apr 17, 2019

* The Cook County State’s Attorney and her employees ought to realize that these official communications are publicly accessible under the Freedom of Information Act. The fact that they are chatting like it’s a private conversation says almost as much about them as the substance of the conversations

Just after news broke that “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett had been indicted on 16 felony counts, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx told her top deputy that Smollett was a “washed up celeb who lied to cops” and the number of felony counts he faced was excessive, communications obtained by the Chicago Tribune show.

“Sooo……I’m recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases…16 counts on a class 4 (felony) becomes exhibit A,” Foxx said in a text message to Joseph Magats, her top assistant, on March 8.

Foxx went on in those texts to Magats to compare Smollett’s case to the office’s pending indictment of R&B singer R. Kelly on 10 charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16 (counts),” she wrote. “… Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should.” […]

When asked why the state’s attorney continued to communicate about the case after her withdrawal, a spokeswoman issued a statement Tuesday night on Foxx’s behalf saying she reached out to Magats only “to discuss reviewing office policies to assure consistencies in our charging and our use of appropriate charging authority.”

#FacePalm

There’s no doubt in my own mind that Smollett was ridiculously over-charged. And the comparison to the number of charges against R. Kelly has some merit.

But, wow. If you have something to say that might not look so great splashed all over the front page of the Chicago Tribune, maybe just walk down the hall.

* Related…

* Black Caucus: We will continue to stand with State’s Attorney Foxx

- Posted by Rich Miller        

56 Comments
  1. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    2020 Dem primary ought to be fun to watch, assuming Foxx runs again.

    It’s like they never spent any time in private practice where you learn very quickly that anything in writing is gonna be discovered.


  2. - Flynn's Mom - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    Amateur hour.


  3. - Almost the weekend - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:52 am:

    What I would do to see Kim Foxx debate Jonah Ryan.


  4. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:53 am:

    “I’m recused, but..”

    If you are truly recused there should be no “buts.” Talk policy going forward all you want once the case is over. Does anyone know what they are doing over there?


  5. - Montrose - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:54 am:

    I pretty much agree with everything said in the texts. That doesn’t mean I think they should have been texting.


  6. - Roman - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    The media coverage of this so far has buried the lede. She recused herself. She should not be talking to the ASA handling the prosecution. By expressing her displeasure with the how the grand jury was conducted and making references to deffered prosecution, she’s directing her subordinate how to handle the case. That’s the opposite of a recusal. Where did she go to law school? She needs a refresher on basic legal terms.


  7. - Blue Dog Dem - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:57 am:

    Smollet was ridiculously overcharged. I agree
    So was Blago.


  8. - Perrid - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    This is why formal recusals take the case away from the office. And yes, putting questionable actions down in writing is never a good idea. You shouldn’t do them anyway, but having written proof is just dumb.

    To the substance of the texts, I agree a fine and community service probably are appropriate, but I would say he probably deserved more of each, and even more importantly he should have been forced to admit to what he had done. The fact that he and his lawyers get to crow about being exonerated is the only sticking point to me.


  9. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    Given the Selina-like content here, and the absurd official explanations after its disclosure, I’m guessing the FOIA requests to the SA will be flying from here on out.

    Good material is hard to find.


  10. - Colin O'Scopy - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:05 am:

    It begs the question: who is doing the “over-charging”? Answer: her own office.

    I hope SA Foxx and her media team reads this: the criticism you are facing now, endlessly, is because you failed to extract an admission from Jussie Smollett. Not because you are a “strong, woman, black reformer”. I wouldn’t have cared a lick if he didn’t see a day in jail, or paid back the money for the investigation. I just wanted him to own his lie and admit he did it.


  11. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    Is this office not having staff meetings? These texts about media coordination are ridiculous. There’s another message saying that she didn’t expect so much media attention from the dropped charges…really?


  12. - common_sense - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    I do not deny racism exists it is painfully obvious that it does exist what also exists is true double standard if this case was as portrayed there would not have been deferred prosecution in my opinion.


  13. - The Big Salad - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    This doesn’t bother me at all. The core of what she said was reasonable, and I’m not going to ever hold it against someone for talking in a non-contrived way to keep some charade going about how elected officials must comport themselves. I’m not sure most people understand the impact that FOIA has had in terms of moving what I would estimate is 70%+ of conversations off of email/text so that it can never be seen by the public. And then much of what remains is either ho-hum admin stuff or has been sanitized in anticipation of FOIA.

    It’s actually a relief to see normal conversations like this.


  14. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    I don’t really agree with the overcharging point. I would rather face 16 class four felony counts than one murder count. The number does not matter as much as the seriousness of the crime. Also, was Jason Van Dyke overcharged because he faced 16 aggravated battery counts?

    But yeah these texts are soooooo dumb. It’s not even amateur hour; they’re not amateurs. It’s doing something even though you know it’s stupid hour.


  15. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    Exactly what I was thinking when I read these. If I was a reporter I would FOIA her text messages from the day she was sworn in until now.


  16. - Jocko - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:09 am:

    Texting on a work phone about a ‘heater case’ your department is handling? WTH

    Maybe Foxx and Magats needed to text back and forth because the hair dryers they were under at the salon were too loud. /s


  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:10 am:

    –The media coverage of this so far has buried the lede. She recused herself.–

    You must have missed this earlier bit of comedy gold from last month:

    –”Although we used the term ‘recuse’ as it relates to State’s Attorney Foxx’s involvement in this matter, it was a colloquial use of the term rather than in its legal sense,” the SA office said in a statement.–


  18. - Just Another Anon - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:14 am:

    @Jocko: Any texts relating to “Public Business” are subject to FOIA, whether or not it was on a government controlled or owned device.


  19. - Anon - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:16 am:

    Your honor, I offer as Exhibit A as to why Ms. Foxx is under-qualified, over-political, and completely out of touch. The BC can stand up for her because she’s black, but there is no countering that her behavior was totally out of line.


  20. - {Sigh} - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:20 am:

    =“Pedophile with 4 victims 10 counts. Washed up celeb who lied to cops, 16 (counts),” she wrote. “… Just because we can charge something doesn’t mean we should.” […]=

    Take a minute for that to set in.. “lied to cops” in the States Attorney’s own words. No wonder we have issues in Cook County. {Sigh}


  21. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    Blue Dog Dem -
    Rather than saying Blago was overcharged I prefer to say Ryan was undercharged, but the train has long since left the station.


  22. - Responsa - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:26 am:

    I’ve lived in the city or near suburbs almost my entire adult life. Like so many of us I love Chicago. But we also know that Chicago has a well deserved local and national reputation for insider deal politics and hiding/masking problems of malfeasance or incompetence by office holders. No case in memory has reinforced this image more than how the Smollett hoax was handled once the police did their investigation. It’s all so simple for the average person to grasp and is why still weeks after the fact it continues as developing news and we are a laughing stock.


  23. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    –“lied to cops” in the States Attorney’s own words. No wonder we have issues in Cook County.–

    Not sure what you mean there. Lying to cops, it and of itself, isn’t a crime (unlike federales). It’s been going on since homo sapiens started walking upright.

    It’s standard practice for cops to lie to suspects as well: “We’re not after you,” “Your buddy said you did it,” “we found evidence you were at the scene….”

    Good reason to always clam up and lawyer up.


  24. - Henry Francis - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    Everyone needs to take a deep breath and reflect on this a bit. I mean she had Dorothy Brown front and center at her press conference defending her.


  25. - TopHatMonocle - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:35 am:

    I would characterize myself overall as a Foxx supporter. I also feel that she royally screwed this up. Foxx supporters would banish me for blasphemy if that opinion was uttered. The insinuation that anyone who thinks she made a mistake with this case is a racist and a sexist is going to backfire. Not owning up the mistakes means this is a story that will never go away.


  26. - City Zen - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    “Washed up celeb?” With all the reality show outlets, does she really think this is the last we’ll see of Jussie?

    Smollett will have a longer shelf life than Colloquial Kim.


  27. - Flynn's Mom - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 10:40 am:

    I believe the win goes to Henry Francis.


  28. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:03 am:

    So Foxx thinks the case is overcharged. Many other people do too. That’s fine. The real issue that many people have is that she dropped ALL of the charges. Heck, she didn’t even get a misdemeanor conviction. The guy filed false police reports causing a waste of police resources that could go to important issues - like fighting violent crime.

    But let’s be clear - this case isn’t the only problem facing the State’s Attorney’s Office. The office is a disaster. The Civil Actions Bureau has been decimated and is a shell of its former self. I would go on a limb and say its an embarrassment. Foxx has not done a good job, and has to go.


  29. - The Dude - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    She already is a laughing stock for entire country. Why should she care about something else when everyone already knows what she is.


  30. - d. p. gumby - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:17 am:

    Foxx at least demonstrate a rational approach to her job by condemning the overcharging!!


  31. - Iggy - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:21 am:

    A republican SA in a collar county would have already resigned. this is an embarrassment to the judicial system. Keep up the good work Kim.


  32. - Father Ted - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    It’s 2019. How does anyone in public service- especially attorneys- not know better than to have conversations like this via electronic media? Further proof that she’s over her skis in this role.


  33. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:27 am:

    ===A republican SA in a collar county would have already resigned===

    LOLOL

    Hilarious.


  34. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:32 am:

    How many 36 year old “washed up celebrities” make $125,000 an episode or a total of $7 million since the series started?

    I don’t think the state’s attorneys office was following the Peter Strzok /Lisa Page saga too closely.


  35. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    –A republican SA in a collar county would have already resigned.–

    That’s supposed to be a joke, right?


  36. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    Foxx is not a novice, no excuse for this kind of behavior this far into her term.


  37. - Fav human - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    Wasn’t she elected as a reformer? Shouldn’t a reform candidate actually do some reforming if they win?

    what action has she taken to work on overcharging? Other than texting…


  38. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    ===How many 36 year old “washed up celebrities” make $125,000 an episode===

    That should be “made,” as in past-tense. So, yeah, right now he looks pretty well washed up.


  39. - revvedup - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 12:18 pm:

    Actually, lying to cops constitutes obstructing law enforcement under Illinois law. People v. Meister, 289 Ill. App. 3d 337, 342 (1997)(providing false information to delay officer’s investigation constituted obstructing an officer).


  40. - Montrose - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    “Wasn’t she elected as a reformer? Shouldn’t a reform candidate actually do some reforming if they win?

    what action has she taken to work on overcharging? Other than texting…”

    Some would say setting in place a policy that defers prosecution on cases like Smollet’s so the SA can focus on more serious prosecutions is a pretty good reform.


  41. - don the legend - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    ===A republican SA in a collar county would have already resigned.===

    Like all those Republican SA who say they won’t enforce any new gun laws have resigned?
    Never mind.


  42. - Left Leaner - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    ===It’s actually a relief to see normal conversations like this.===

    I’m with The Big Salad on this one. Some mistakes aside, does anyone disagree that this is all just a bit ridiculous?


  43. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    == Some mistakes aside, does anyone disagree that this is all just a bit ridiculous? ==

    Yeah, people conduct government business through text to be transparent.

    Political consequences? Who needs to worry about those? Just throw you’re political capital out the window for any old matter.

    Don’t forget the FBI is investigating this matter too. Not sure these “recusal” texts are the best look for an obstruction investigation. Plus, every politician needs an FBI investigation, right?


  44. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 2:16 pm:

    I bet Foxx doesn’t run for reelection. She is has been the worst SA in my lifetime.


  45. - Paceman - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    You charge big so you have room to plea bargain it down and secure an admission of guilt.


  46. - TominChicago - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 2:44 pm:

    The problem is not that they overcharged (they did) or even that he got off with a slap on the wrist (he did). The problem is that they tried to hide what they were doing, did not abide by the normal deferred prosecution procedure which requires an acknowledgment of guilt and a promise not to do it again. Without those two things, it’s not a deferred prosecution, it’s an exoneration.


  47. - Minnie Pearl Jam - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 4:09 pm:

    EMAIL: Evidence Made Available In Litigation


  48. - {Sigh} - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 5:50 pm:

    Let’s not forget when Kim Foxx took the oath of office. December 1, 2016: “During her speech, Fox also promised to hold people accountable for their actions, no matter who they are.”
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/kim-foxx-sworn-in-as-cook-county-states-attorney/


  49. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 6:21 pm:

    Henry Francis and Almost the Weekend, I ‘m so glad I already put the drink down or it would have been splacsed all over my keyboard. hilarious stuff about a ridiculous person.


  50. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 6:21 pm:

    Henry Francis and Almost the Weekend, I ‘m so glad I already put the drink down or it would have been splacsed all over my keyboard. hilarious stuff about a ridiculous person.


  51. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 6:29 pm:

    sorry for the duplicate comments and I have no idea why they went unidentified. maybe I was laughing too hard.


  52. - Left Leaner - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 7:23 pm:

    ===Political consequences? Who needs to worry about those? Just throw you’re political capital out the window for any old matter.===

    Like I said, mistakes were obviously made. Nobody’s arguing that. But politically, pending any big problems uncovered by the FBI, she’s fine.

    She has plenty of political capital left in the Black, Latino and progressive White communities. If fact, she’s building capital with some people.

    Think of it this way. 1) Nobody anywhere has any love for Jussie Smollet. 2) That said, he was overcharged to the point of ludicrous. Most people will agree with that, even reasonable-minded Foxx haters. 3) Compared to a Mayor (and the former State’s Attorney) who actively hid a video of a White police officer shooting a Black teenager to win an election, a few ill-advised, but honest text messages ain’t nothing. 4) And, to many people, that makes other people now attacking Foxx look…well…discriminatory, and trying to interrupt the work of a criminal justice reformer trying to reform a criminal justice system desperately in need of it.

    She’s fine.


  53. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:32 pm:

    Jerry Joyce will likely run and crush her.


  54. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:39 pm:

    Of course Kim Foxx’s enemies are using the Smollett investigation against her. In my book, you get points for beating your enemies, not noticing them.


  55. - Quizzical - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 9:55 pm:

    I prosecuted cases for years and I’ve never heard the term “overcharged” in relation to a indictment. The number of counts in an indictment is not directly related to the seriousness of the offense(s) alleged. If somebody thought there were too many counts in the indictment, charges could have been Nollied.

    Smollet was allowed to do his community service before the case was disposed and his community service was to speak as some sort of role model at PUSH. In normal dispositions, thieves don’t community service in banks, molesters don’t help out schools and fraudsters don’t do accounting work for the YMCA.

    Prosecutors shouldn’t resolve big cases without input from the department bringing the case.

    There are so many problems with the way this was handled that I have trouble thinking any case Kim Foxx touches can be resolved to the benefit of Cook County citizens or larger interests or justice.


  56. - theCardinal - Wednesday, Apr 17, 19 @ 11:10 pm:

    Flynns mom nailed it at 9:51 am


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