Judge orders special prosecutor to examine Smollett probe
CHICAGO — A judge decided to appoint a special prosecutor Friday to investigate the decision by Cook County prosecutors to dismiss all charges against actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of lying to the police by claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago in January.
In a ruling that leaves open the possibility that Smollett could be charged again, Cook County Judge Michael Toomin suggested that the county's state's attorney, Kim Foxx, mishandled the Smollett case by appointing a top aide to oversee it after she recused herself.
Foxx had been in contact with a relative of the actor and had been approached by former first lady Michelle Obama's one-time chief of staff on behalf of Smollett's family, and she explained at the time that she was recusing herself to avoid "even the perception of a conflict" of interest.
In his ruling, Toomin said he had no problem with Foxx's February recusal, but that it should have included a request for a special prosecutor to take over the case. He said she had no right to hand it off to someone from her office, which he said amounted to naming her own special prosecutor.
"State's attorneys are clearly not meant to have unbridled authority to appoint special prosecutors," he said. "She appointed (her top assistant) to an office, to an entity, that has no legal existence. There isn't an office of the 'acting state's attorney.' It existed only ... in the imagination of Ms. Foxx."
"The unprecedented irregularities identified in this case warrant the appointment of independent counsel to restore the public's confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system," the judge said.
Toomin also left open the possibility that the special prosecutor could charge Smollett again — either with the original charges accusing him of lying to police or with other counts.
Cardi B hit with new felony charges in strip club brawl
NEW YORK — The Grammy-winning rapper Cardi B has been indicted on new felony charges in connection with a fight last year at a New York City strip club.
The indictment filed in state court on Friday charges Cardi B with two counts of felony attempted assault and various lesser charges.
Prosecutors said she's to appear at an arraignment next week in Queens. There was no immediate response to a message seeking comment from her lawyer.
Police say Cardi B, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar, and her entourage were at the club when she argued with a bartender.
They say a fight broke out in which chairs, bottles and hookah pipes were thrown, causing minor injuries to the woman and another employee.
Cardi B rejected a plea deal earlier this year.