Judge in Smollett case rules to keep Dan Webb as special prosecutor after concerns of possible conflict of interest

ByLeah Hope WLS logo
Friday, October 4, 2019
Jussie Smollett case: Judge rules on special prosecutor Dan Webb's possible conflict of interest in 'Empire' actor's case
A Chicago judge ruled on Friday to keep Dan Webb as the special prosecutor investigating the decision by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

CHICAGO -- A Chicago judge ruled on Friday to keep Dan Webb as the special prosecutor investigating the decision by Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett.

Judge Michael Toomin found no indication that the former U.S. attorney "harbors any bias" following concerns that Webb has a possible conflict of interest.

RELATED: Jussie Smollett case: Timeline of key moments in alleged attack on 'Empire' actor

"Empire" actor and R&B singer Jussie Smollett told Chicago police last month that two men physically attacked him and yelled racial and homophobic slurs. There have been dozens of twists and turns since then. Here are some key moments from the start of this story.

The concerns emerged after Webb disclosed that he hosted a fundraiser for Foxx in 2016. Court documents also revealed a $1,000 donation was made in Webb's name to Foxx's campaign that year.

Webb told the judge he didn't recall any contact with Foxx. He said he only became aware of the contribution after Foxx's attorney contacted him last week.

Last month, Webb was assigned to investigate Foxx's decision to dismiss felony charges against Smollett, who's accused of staging an attack on himself.

WATCH: Video shows Jussie Smollett with rope around his neck

Chicago police have released nearly 70 hours of video in the Jussie Smollett case.

Smollett was charged with staging the attack in Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood in January. Police and prosecutors said Smollett orchestrated the attack with the help of two brothers. One brother was an extra on "Empire" and the other was Smollett's personal trainer.

All charges against Smollett were dropped in late February in exchange for community service and forfeiture of his $10,000 bond payment.

In court on Friday, Sheila O'Brien, a retired judge who asked for the Smollett case to get a thorough look, said that perception is important in this public integrity case. But she stopped short of recommending the judge find another special prosecutor.

In the end, Judge Toomin acknowledged that political contributions are common from attorneys.

The Cook County State's Attorney's Office released a statement on the court's ruling Friday, saying that "public trust is paramount to our work."

The office said it'll "continue to fully cooperate with the special prosecutor as he reviews this matter."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Previous coverage:

Jussie Smollett case: Documents show special prosecutor Dan Webb made donation to Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett case: PR firm says 'every iota' of 'Empire' actor's claim true; police differ

Dan Webb appointed special prosecutor in 'Empire' actor's case

Jussie Smollett case: Hearing held on Chicago's lawsuit against 'Empire' actor

'Empire' filming in Chicago near Jussie Smollett alleged attack site

Jussie Smollett: Judge dismisses motions by 'Empire' actor's attorneys

Jussie Smollett: Attorneys decline special prosecutor role in actor's case, report says

'Empire' actor's attorneys argue against special prosecutor, want judge replaced

Jussie Smollett's attorneys argue for Chicago lawsuit to be moved to federal court

Chicago police release investigative files, video of alleged staged attack on 'Empire' actor

Judge orders special prosecutor to review Jussie Smollett case

911 calls released of Jussie Smollett reporting alleged attack

Lee Daniels says Jussie Smollett not returning for final season of 'Empire'

Cook Co. State's Attorney's Office releases documents in Jussie Smollett case

Chicago police release 400 pages of Jussie Smollett case files

Judge rules to unseal records in Jussie Smollett case

'Empire' will go 1 more season, Smollett's future is unclear

Judge asked to recuse himself from petition to appoint special prosecutor in Jussie Smollett case

Jussie Smollett's contract extended, no plans for character to return to 'Empire'

Osundairo brothers file defamation lawsuit against Jussie Smollett's attorneys

Kim Foxx receives death threats after Jussie Smollett charges dropped

Kim Foxx's chief spokesperson resigns from State's Attorney's Office

2 top staffers leaving Kim Foxx's State's Attorney's Office

Jussie Smollett update: Kim Foxx's texts and emails raise more questions about recusal

Kim Foxx texts show she thought number of Jussie Smollett charges 'excessive'

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handled

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx asks for review of how Jussie Smollett case was handled

City sues Jussie Smollett for cost of investigating alleged staged attack

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx lets Derrion Albert killer off the hook

Kim Foxx says 'this is personal' about calls for her to resign

Jussie Smollett attorney responds to Chicago's civil suit threat

Taraji P. Henson weighs in on 'Empire' co-star Jussie Smollett's case

Chicago to file civil suit against 'Empire' actor for not paying $130K cost of police investigation

In wake of Jussie Smollett, suburban police chiefs take no confidence stance against State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Jussie Smollett case leads to protests for, against Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx

Chris Rock rips an absent Jussie Smollett at the NAACP Image Awards

Thousands referred for alternative prosecution by Cook County prosecutors haven't completed process

Jussie Smollett's surprise deal raises new questions

City of Chicago asks Jussie Smollett to pay for $130,000 cost of investigation

FBI reviewing circumstances of Jussie Smollett's charges being dropped, sources confirm

What's inside the CPD Jussie Smollett investigative file?

Mayor Emanuel calls decision to drop charges against Smollett 'whitewash of justice'

Charges dropped against 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett

Osundairo brother at center of Jussie Smollett case compete in Chicago boxing match

Jussie Smollett update: 'Pain and anger' around 'Empire' in recent weeks, Lee Daniels says

FOP accuses Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx of interfering in Jussie Smollett investigation

Jussie Smollett pleads not guilty to disorderly conduct charges

Jussie Smollett update: Texts shed light on why State's Attorney Kim Foxx recused herself

Jussie Smollett appears in court for hearing; Cameras allowed for Thursday hearing

Jussie Smollett update: Brothers 'taken advantage of' by Smollett, attorney says

Jussie Smollett indicted on 16 felony counts by grand jury

Brothers reportedly involved in Jussie Smollett alleged hoax release statement expressing 'regret'

Jussie Smollett's check to brothers obtained by ABC News

Jussie Smollett's character to be removed from 'Empire', producers say

What's next for Jussie Smollett? Possible big police bill

Jussie Smollett alleged hoax may cast doubt on real hate crimes, advocates fear

Jussie Smollett out on bond after being accused of staging attack

Jussie Smollett charged with disorderly conduct for filing false police report, prosecutors say

Cook Co. State's Attorney Kim Foxx recuses herself from Jussie Smollett investigation

Brothers told police Smollett was upset threatening letter didn't get enough attention, staged attack

Activist calls for Smollett's arrest, believes actor lied about attack

Brothers tell police that Jussie Smollett paid them to stage attack, official says

Sources: Police investigating whether Smollett staged attack with help of others

Timeline of key moments in alleged attack on Jussie Smollett

Jussie Smollett breaks silence on Chicago attack

'Empire' actor's family releases statement on attack, pictures of possible persons of interest released

Photos show potential persons of interest in 'Empire' actor attack, police say

'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett attacked in Chicago in possible hate crime, police say