Texts: Chicago prosecutor called Smollett 'washed up celeb'

Joann Johnston
April 17, 2019

Her full texts read, "Sooo.I'm recused, but when people accuse us of overcharging cases.16 counts on a class 4 (felony) becomes exhibit A".

"Pedophile with four victims 10 counts".

In an op-ed for The Chicago Tribune, Foxx said she understood the public outrage against Smollett, but said it was important to separate people we were angry at, from people who pose a public safety threat.

Foxx had recused herself from the case in February after she had communications with one of Smollett's relatives.

"Just wish I could have anticipated the magnitude of this response and planned a bit better!" texted Assistant State's Attorney Risa Lanier to Magats. The decision to drop charges sparked outrage, and was followed by a civil suit by the city of Chicago against Smollett seeking to force the actor to reimburse the city for police department overtime expenses. On March 3, Magats reported that he gave Foxx's phone number to Michael Avenatti, who had joined the case, according to text messages.

In all, the hundreds of emails released- many of them showing emails exchanged between Foxx's staff and frantic reporters- don't shed much light on how Smollett came to have all charges against him dropped abruptly at a hearing that was not on the court docket last month.

The almost 4,000 page document was in response to the media's Freedom of Information Act requests.

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Foxx had originally recused herself from the case because she said she had conversations with a family member of Smollett when she still thought Smollett was the victim of a crime.

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) Jussie Smollett waves as he follows his attorney after his court appearance at Leighton Courthouse on March 26, 2019 in Chicago.

However, Johnson and Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a news conference that morning slamming the decision - "a whitewash of justice", the mayor said.

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". She said Johnson seemed "satisfied" with her explanation that Smollett had completed community service and turned over his $10,000 bond money to the city. He claimed two men beat and shouted slurs at him and wrapped a noose around his neck.

While the prosecutors have the power to drop charges for any reason, Smollett's deal did not, in fact, conform to state laws on deferred prosecution, and Smollett appeared to have spent two days volunteering with Rainbow PUSH. Police insist he staged the attack. Foxx's office has since said that when an interoffice email to senior staff stated that Foxx was "recused" in the case, the term was used in a colloquial, not a legal definition.

Inspector General Patrick Blanchard will be conducting an investigation of how Foxx's office handled the case.

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