CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - A judge is set to decide Thursday whether a special prosecutor should investigate Kim Foxx's handling of the Jussie Smollett case, and we’ve now learned that the judge has a son who works in the state's attorney’s office.
Judge Leroy Martin Junior is the presiding judge of the Cook County Court's Criminal Division. It's standard procedure for him to preside over the hearing to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Foxx's handling of the Smollett case. But it turns out that Martin's son is a lawyer who works in the Juvenile Division of the state's attorney’s office. He was hired last April.
When we asked longtime criminal defense attorney Joe Lopez if, in his opinion, this constitutes a conflict of interest, he said it may or may not.
“It just depends on what the real connection is. The fact that she hired someone from that office doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a conflict of interest and he may recuse himself anyway because he may tell the parties I don’t feel comfortable because my son’s one of your employees, so that could be the basis for the judge to recuse himself,” Lopez said. “But I would anticipate the judge will probably recuse himself.”
Lopez wasn't surprised to hear about the Martin family connection.
“There’s plenty of judges that have children working in the state’s attorney’s office. There’s at least one or two that I can think of right now,” Lopez said.
Foxx has been under fire for dropping charges against the “Empire” actor for allegedly staging a hate crime against himself. She has said she would welcome an independent probe by the inspector general into her handling of the case, but says she's against a special prosecutor stepping in.
“I really don’t think there’s any legs in this litigation anyway. I think it’s going to go away,” Lopez said. “And people just remember what happened, and what’ll happen is whatever the voters decide later on, I suppose.”
Foxx and her top assistant have been subpoenaed to appear at the hearing, but she's filed a motion to block that subpoena.
The hearing's scheduled for Thursday morning at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.