Page 17 - FOP May 2019 Magazine
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(NDAA), formed in 1950, has the following mission statement on its website: “To be the voice of America’s prosecutors and to sup- port their efforts to protect the rights and safety of the people.”
In a March 27 press release, the NDAA explained that the role of the prosecutor in the criminal justice system is to “weigh all the facts and determine the best path forward to ensure justice is served.” In addressing the Smollett incident, the NDAA made several observations that all prosecutors must follow (Are you listening, Ms. Foxx?) in order “to increase, not diminish, the pub- lic’s confidence”:
First, when a chief prosecutor recuses him or herself, the recusal must apply to the entire office, not just the elected or appointed prosecutor. This is consistent with best practices for prosecutors’ offices around the country.
Second, prosecutors should not take advice from politically connected friends of the accused. Each case should be approached with the goal of justice for victims while protecting the rights of the defendant.
Third, when a prosecutor seeks to resolve a case through diver- sion or some other alternative to prosecution, it should be done so with an acknowledgment of culpability on the part of the defen- dant. A case with the consequential effects of Mr. Smollett’s should not be resolved without a finding of guilt or innocence.
Fourth, expunging Mr. Smollett’s record at this immediate stage is counter to transparency. Law enforcement will now not be able to acknowledge that Mr. Smollett was indicted and charged with these horrible crimes and the full record of what occurred will be forever hidden from public view.
Finally, we believe strongly that hate crimes should be prose- cuted vigorously but the burden of proof should not be artificially increased due to the misguided decisions of others.
In conclusion, the NDAA indicated that what happened in Chicago brings to light an inequitable flaw in our criminal jus-
tice system, namely that “The rich are treated differently, the po- litically connected receive favorable treatment, and Lady Justice sometimes peeks under her blindfold to see who stands before her.” All law-abiding citizens should be outraged.
Similarly, the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association (IPBA), which represents nearly 1,000 prosecutors in Illinois, issued a more blunt statement:
Prosecutors must be held to the highest standard of legal ethics in the pursuit of justice. The actions of the state’s attorney have fallen woefully short of this expectation. Through the repeated misleading and deceptive statements to the public on Illinois law and circumstances surrounding the Smollett dismissal, the state’s attorney has failed in her most fundamental ethical obligations to the public. The IPBA condemns these actions...This irregular arrangement was an affront to prosecutors across the state, the Chicago police, victims of hate crimes and the people of the City of Chicago.
Even the Chicago Tribune devoted multiple articles to the de- bacle, calling Foxx’s actions “indefensible.”
Finally, several members of Foxx’s staff have chosen to leave the office in the past few weeks. Effective May 3, the chief ethics officer, April Perry, and the chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit, Mark Rotert, will have resigned. Following their announcement, Kiera Ellis, who directed external affairs and handled press in- quiries for the state’s attorney’s office, also quit. Coincidence?
When the justice system is properly administered every seg- ment of society benefits. We should all expect our elected rep- resentatives to act in the best interest of justice, and not only for those with connections. How can her office be trusted to do the right thing going forward? She has a failed track record.
Shame on you, Ms. Foxx! The City of Chicago should not have to wait until 2020 — resign now.
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