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Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx has dismissed more than 25,000 felony cases - including murder cases- during her tenure from November 2019, according to an analysis by the Chicago Tribune based on data from the Cook County State's Attorney office.
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – FEBRUARY 22: Joined by Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announces that charges have been filed against singer R. Kelly on February 22, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of four victims, at least three between the ages of 13 and 17. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
During Foxx’s first three years as the county’s top prosecutor, her office dropped all charges against 29.9% of felony defendants.
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The report revealed Foxx is dismissing cases at a 35% higher rate than her predecessor, Anita Alvarez. For the last three years of Anita Alvarez’s tenure, the rate was 19.4%.
CHICAGO, IL – APRIL 20: Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announces a move by her office to no longer prosecute most cases of misdemeanor marijuana possession involving less than 30 grams on April 20, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
In total, Foxx dismissed 25,183 felony cases compared to Alvarez's 8,694 felony cases.
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The Tribune reported that Foxx did not dispute the findings, but she argued that the statistics give "an incomplete picture of her commitment to keeping the public safe."
“It is always eye-opening to be able to look at our own data and compare it to my predecessor’s past,” Foxx told the newspaper. “I can’t reconcile what her decision-making was, and how they chose to (dismiss) cases in the past. But I will say that this administration has been clear that our focus would be on violent crime and making sure that our resources and attention would go to addressing violent crime.”
She noted that her office has also dismissed cases against low-level, nonviolent offenders so prosecutors can "concentrate on crimes of violence."
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According to the Tribune, however, Foxx’s higher rates of dropped cases included people accused of murder, shootings, sex crimes and attacks on police officers, as well as drug offenses that the outlet says has "driven much of Chicago’s street violence."
In the three-year period analyzed, Foxx’s office dropped 8.1% of homicide cases and 9.5% of felony sex crime cases, compared with 5.3% of homicide cases and 6.5% of felony sex crime cases under Alvarez.
Meanwhile, the rate of dropped cases for aggravated battery and for aggravated battery with a firearm also increased. Under Foxx, the percentage of cases dropped for defendants accused of aggravated battery of a police officer more than doubled, from 3.9% to 8.1%.
Foxx argued that it is important to her to create an environment where assistant state's attorneys can be encouraged to openly discuss dropping felony charges for cases with legal problems.
“Recognizing the history that we’ve had around wrongful convictions, recognizing our ethical obligations as prosecutors … requires us to reinforce that people can, if they believe a case is flawed, bring it to our attention, and we will dismiss it if it’s appropriate,” Foxx said.
Foxx added that she is more selective about prosecuting the "strongest, most winnable cases" but the Tribune's analysis found her overall conviction rate was 66% during her first three years compared to Alvarez's 75% conviction rate during her last three years.
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As of Aug. 2, the number of people killed in Chicago hit 450, up 55% from 291 the previous year. Shootings were up 48%, jumping from 1,220 to 1,804, according to Chicago police data.
Foxx said her policies have not led to the spike in violent crime, which she notes occurred during a pandemic and time of civil unrest, and that other big cities also have seen increases.
“The fact that we’ve had three years of my policies that have been put in place and over the three years we did not see an increase in violent crime would suggest to me that … that is not a logical outcome,” she said.
Both Foxx and Alvarez did not immediately return Fox News' requests for comment.
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Foxx vowed to reform the criminal justice system and reduce the population of Cook County Jail after being elected in 2016. She is up for re-election in November.
The most well-known case where Foxx’s office dropped all felony charges was for "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in downtown Chicago. Prosecutors in 2019 moved to dismiss all 16 charges against the Smollett.
Former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb has been appointed by a Cook County Judge as a special prosecutor to investigate if there was any misconduct in how Foxx's office handled the allegations against Smollett.
Foxx had opposed the appointment of a special prosecutor, saying it would duplicate the work of the county’s inspector general, who was already looking into the Smollett case. However, Webb's investigation has led a grand jury to indict Smollett on new charges in February, making nearly identical allegations as those dropped by Foxx's office.
Webb will issue a final report to the court and the Cook County Board of Commissioners, although no date has been specified.
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