On Aug. 28, Judge Michael Toomin refused to release a 60-page grand jury report regarding the handling of the Jussie Smollett case.
Smolletta gay former actor who was on the TV show Empire as well as movies such as The Skinny and Alien: Covenantwas accused of staging a hate crime on himself on January 2019. Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the 16 felony counts; her office was then the subject of the investigation regarding their handling of the case. Smollett has since been indicted again for new charges brought up by a special prosecutor. The full release of this grand jury report regarding the investigation of the case's directives was the center of debate.
The hearing focused on the directive that investigates the Chicago Police Department ( CPD ) and any offices that may have conducted wrongdoing in Smollett's case. Special prosecutor Dan Webb began by explaining that releasing the report would still be fair for Smollett's trial because it focused on CPD and the Cook County state's attorney's office, not Smollett.
Webb argued in favor of releasing his report to the public. Ruben Castillo, a former chief judge representing Foxx's office, argued in favor of obtaining at least five business days to look over the report and comment. Toomin ruled against releasing the report at all.
Foxx and her team were the subject of backlash due to the case's mishandeling, which consequently affected the 2020 election for Cook County State's attorney. Castillo feared that by releasing the grand jury report, which was stated to have included ethical violations by Foxx's office, it would damage reputations.
Castillo spoke next in defense that releasing the report might damage reputations that are built "little by little, hour by hour and damaged by inaccurate facts and conclusions." He believed releasing the report would affect Smollett's right to a fair trial and argued in favor of a motion to allow them to review and comment before its release.
Webb countered by stating that there is no basis under Illinois law to grant Castillo's motion, saying that he had satisfied the need for the release and that their firm could "make all the public comments they want."
Toomin then officially made the decision not to release the report. His reasoning was that the special prosecutor had access to outside materials in addition to the grand jury report. Toomin also mentioned the influence of the national ( and international ) coverage of the case had lessened the need for the full report.