CHICAGO (CBS)– CBS 2 has obtained an internal email from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office regarding a search for felony cases dropped under similar circumstances to the Jussie Smollett case.
“We are looking for examples of cases, felony preferable, where we, in excersing [sic] our discretion, have entered into verbal agreements with defense attorneys to dismiss charges against an offender if certain conditions were met, such as the payment of restitution, completion of community service, completion of class, etc., but the defendant was not placed in a formal diversion program,” the email states.
Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx denied that her office fixed Jussie Smollett’s case by agreeing to drop charges, insisting prosecutors handled the disorderly conduct charges the same way they do in thousands of other low-level felony cases.
According to Foxx, during her tenure since taking office in December 2016, her office has disposed of 5,700 felony cases through alternative prosecution.
Prosecutors dropped 16 counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett on Tuesday, and he forfeited the $10,000 bail he had posted after his arrest. He also performed 16 hours of community service with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Foxx and First Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Magats, who oversaw the case after Foxx recused herself, insisted prosecutors would not have dropped charges if Smollett had not agreed to forfeit his bail and perform community service.
The internal email makes clear the State’s Attorney’s office was seeking to find comparable felony cases in which they dropped charges under similar conditions to the Smollett case.
“Please ask your ASAs if they have examples of these types of dispositions and we will work with them further to figure out on what case it was done. Nobody is in trouble, we are just looking for further examples of how we, as prosecutors, use our discretion in a way that restores the victim, but causes minimal harm to the defendant in the long term,” the internal email stated.
CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller does not believe similar cases to that of Smollett will be found.
“They may find some cases that are similar that may match the issues here, but the vast majority of cases would never ever be handled in this manner,” Miller said. “Let’s say you have a drug case and you get picked up with some cocaine, you go to drug school and we’ll drop the case. There’s probably 10,000 of those, but no similar cases that match this scenario.”
Miller said he is in favor of dispositions through alternative prosecution, but not in this case.
“This wasn’t appropriate,” he said.