The discovery of new connections among members of the Chicago judiciary and prosecutors is making it more difficult to get to the bottom of just why the 16 charges against actor Jussie Smollett were suddenly dropped.
The judge who was to decide whether a special investigation was needed of Kim Foxx, the Chicago attorney general who made the decision to drop the charges, quit Friday after it was discovered that his son works for Foxx.
Who you know
Judge Leroy Martin Jr. announced his decision to step aside after weighing his options for the past week.
“I am not unmindful that the appearance of justice is important,” he said, “I think it is prudent and wise that I transfer the matter.”
Martin’s participation in the case came under scrutiny last week when Sheila O’Brien, the former judge who is demanding that Foxx’s conduct be investigated, argued that he has a conflict of interest. It turns out that his son, Leroy Martin III, has been working as Chicago’s assistant state attorney under Foxx since April of 2018.
“You’re going to decide whether the state’s attorney, your son’s boss, is telling the truth,” said O’Brien. “Your son’s career is tied to the potential witness’ career.”
Nonetheless, Martin, at least initially, didn’t see the conflict of interest, which led to a back-and-forth exchange between them in the courtroom last week.
“Never before has this issue come up regarding this, considering the fact that I sit in judgment of cases every day involving the state’s attorney’s office,” he said. “It troubles me that we’re having this discussion about my family member because bringing one’s family into these kinds of circumstances is troubling.”
Foxx also didn’t see a problem with Martin making the decision, which, of course, is no surprise.
However, after thinking it over for a week, it appears that Martin did come to see what O’Brien was saying, and thus chose to step down. It is interesting to note, however, that rather than just completely step away from the matter, he hand-selected Judge Michael Toomin to replace him.
Deeper and Deeper
This all arises from Kim Foxx’s decision to drop 16 charges that were filed against Jussie Smollett for allegedly fabricating a hate crime against himself. Instead of facing jail time for his actions, he was ordered to pay $10,000 and to do 16 hours of community service — a mere slap on the wrist.
With this latest discovery, the question remains as to whether justice will ever be obtained in this case. I wouldn’t hold my breath.