A judge in Illinois has ordered the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx's handling of the case against "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett.
What's the background?
Smollett was arrested and charged with 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime. He had claimed to be the victim of a racist and homophobic attack perpetrated by Trump supporters who yelled "This is MAGA country!" at him. However, once the police began investigating Smollett's claims, the story began to unravel.
The charges against Smollett were later dropped in return for him agreeing to forfeit his $10,000 bail. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the decision to drop the charges "not on the level." The police, who said they had wasted man hours investigating Smollett's initial claims, also protested the move.
Foxx, who was supposed to represent the state against Smollett, announced that she would recuse herself because she knew one of Smollett's relatives. But it later came to light that she never followed through with this promise. Text messages also emerged between Foxx and one of Smollett's relatives about the case while it was still ongoing.
What did the judge say?
Cook County Judge Michael P. Toomin said in his opinion that during the Smollett case "the ship of the State ventured from its protected harbor without the guiding hand of its captain. There was no master on the bridge to guide the ship as it floundered through uncharted waters."
He added that "the unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrants the appointment of independent counsel to restore the public's confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system."
In addition to this special prosecutor, the Cook County's office of inspector general is already investigating the handling of this case, and has been since April.