Let's hear it for Sheila O'Brien in the Smollett case

Sheila O'Brien is a former Illinois appellate court judge who has filed a petition with the Cook County Circuit Court calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the handling of the Jesse Smollett case.

In a Chicago Tribune op-ed, she criticized Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx for inexplicably dropping 16 felony charges for Smollett's staging, then reporting to police, an allegedly fake attack on him by racist right-wing haters.

She wrote that Chicago deserves a state's attorney who will prosecute "the rich and the poor the same...who will ask for full restitution for the money spent on cases...who will tell us what is happening — not seal the file so we can’t read it...who will prosecute alleged criminals, not let them go free...."

At last, someone going after the Chicago Way as it can be practiced in the criminal justice system. There are too many questions about how the case was handled, including the latest revelation by Tribune columnist John Kass about how the Way's network of influentials works to favor pals, cronies and accomplices.

Those influentials will be hard at work to stymie a special prosecutor. The recent news diverts attention away from that by stories that Presiding Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin Jr. got his feelings hurt when O'Brien asked him recuse himself from the case because his son is an assistant state's attorney.

Whatever the legal merits of the argument, focus must remain on the need for a special prosecutor in expose what could be a textbook case of how influence infects Chicago.



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