In announcing her election of former United States Attorney Dan K. Webb as special prosecutor, Cook County Circuit Court Judge Michael Toomin now gives an independent, experienced trial attorney and time to investigate why Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx dropped 16 unauthorized pay charges against Smollett following a high-profile police investigation that lasted several weeks with dozens of investigators.
Webb will have jurisdiction to file new charges, if deemed appropriate, against Smollett following his investigation.
The gay black actor claimed in January that he was the victim of a hate-driven attack, but police in February claimed that Smollett staged it.
Chicago Police Supervisor Eddie Johnson said Smollett paid two brothers $ 3,500 to stage the attack and "take advantage of the pain and anger of racism to advance his career."  The brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, were cleared when prosecutors announced that Smollett had orchestrated a hoax.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said of Friday's development: "We are firmly behind the work of our detectives, prosecutors and an independent grand jury who brought the first criminal charges against Smollett."
Currently a private attorney and executive co-chair of a large law firm in Chicago, Webb is no stranger to investigating corruption in the city.
"His background, experience and qualifications make him an impending understandable choice," Toomin said as he announced his decision.
Toomin said that he has known Webb for nearly 50 years and that the two have gone hunting and fishing together, although during his years as attorneys they were also opponents in the courtroom.
On Friday, Toomin said all the answers to his special prosecutor's requests to public officials were "less than enthusiastic."
Of the 30 responses he received, 27 state attorneys responded with no interest in handling the case, one answered and two answered yes.
Smollett defense attorney Tina Glandian objected to the court against Webb's appointment, citing the two state attorneys who said they would be willing to serve.
"Well, you're right," replies Toomin nded. "That was my conversation." Toomin said the two lawyers who answered "yes" would not have been able to deliver to the capacity he felt comfortable with.
Sheila O & # 39; Brien, a retired Illinois District Court judge who initiated the petition to appoint a special prosecutor in the case, called Toomin's decision Friday a "big day for justice."
"Now we have a special prosecutor who will look at the original case and decide whether it is worth prosecuting again and also how the original case was handled by the State Attorney's Office, "O" Brien told the media after the decision. They include torture of black suspects in the late 1970s and 1980s by then-police chief Jon Burge and the 2014 death of Laquan McDo nald in the hands of Officer Jason Van Dyke.
Following Friday's announcement, Webb said his work the time will be pro bono and will charge the county only for out of fix costs. He also briefly described how he intends to begin his investigation.
"One of the first things we are likely to do is file a motion before Judge Toomin requesting the appointment of a special grand jury to assist the special prosecutor in carrying out our duties," he said.
"I don't want to reinvent the wheel," Webb said. "There are four government agencies that have already done some sort of case investigation, either ongoing or already concluded. And I intend to interact with these four bodies very quickly."
In addition to Chicago Police and Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Webb said the other two are the Inspector General for Cook County and the FBI.
With her petition of a special prosecutor successfully, O & # 39; Brien says that she plans to follow Webb's investigation as a spectator.
"We always have to have the truth anyway," she said. So we will be sure of that now. "