CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has agreed to recuse herself from Jedediah Brown’s case, after a photo surfaced of the two posing for a selfie on Facebook, and they appeared together at a press event earlier this month.
News of the recusal came Tuesday morning, days after Chicago police officers filed a motion asking for her to be removed from the prosecution of Brown, a community activist accused of punching and kicking several officers last year. The officers accused Foxx of a conflict of interest in the case, after the she and Brown were seen posing together for a selfie on Facebook.
At a hearing Tuesday morning at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, Foxx’s office agreed to have a judge appoint a special prosecutor to handle Brown’s misdemeanor case.
Brown was charged with resisting arrest, obstructing traffic, and two counts of misdemeanor battery to a peace officer last year, after an altercation with police during a protest of the fatal police shooting of South Shore barber Harith Augustus in July 2018.
Foxx’s office had been handling the case against Brown, and eight officers who were at the scene of Brown’s arrest sought to have Foxx removed from the case, after seeing the two of them together at a press event at Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters three weeks ago. A photo of the two posing for a selfie later surfaced on Facebook.
The officers’ attorney, James McKay, said the photo of Foxx and Brown together is a problem, regardless of whether she knew about his case.
“When you’re taking pictures with the prosecutor while you have a case pending, that appearance is of impropriety calls out for removal of that prosecutor,” McKay said. “If a prosecutor has a relationship – whether it’s a working relationship, a political relationship, a personal relationship – he or she should remove themselves from that case so it appears to be fair and impartial for both sides.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Allen claimed Foxx had no idea there was a pending case against Brown when she posed for the picture with him. McKay said that’s no excuse; and if Foxx didn’t know, she should have.
McKay’s motion said Brown’s selfie with Foxx isn’t the only issue. He’s also concerned that Brown stood behind Foxx at a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition event earlier this month, defending Foxx’s decision to drop disorderly conduct charges against “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett.
“It compromised [the officers’] confidence in the criminal justice system to say the least. This came to fruition as a result of that press conference, and right now they’re thankful that at least now they have an opportunity for fairness at the trial,” McKay said.
The officers also claimed Brown was a paid employee on Foxx’s 2016 campaign. Brown’sF lawyer said that’s not true, but acknowledged he did volunteer for Foxx’s campaign.
Brown, his defense team, and the officers’ attorney will return to court on May 9 for a hearing to appoint a special prosecutor.
Meantime, Brown will appear before another judge on Wednesday for a previously scheduled hearing in his criminal case. His attorney said appointing a special prosecutor will delay that case, and he will discuss that issue at Wednesday’s hearing.
CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller said “I think she did learn a lesson.”
“I think she knows if there’s an appearance of impropriety, not necessarily any type of conflict, but the appearance.. it’s best to be safe and get off the case,” he said.