Cook County State’s Attorney, Kim Foxx, indicated that she had recused herself from the Jussie Smollett debacle because she had communicated with outsiders (representatives for Smollett) who were concerned about Mr. Smollett’s fate. When text messages emerged that indicated her continued involvement in the case, including concerns about the number and level of charges, her office explained that when Ms. Foxx said recusal she did not mean it in the “legal” sense, she meant it in the “colloquial.”
“Colloquial” means not formal or literary. Funny, but “recused” is a legal term, not a colloquial one. Huck Finn did not have a term for “recused.” “Recusal” is used by lawyers, judges, and board members, and it means that you step out of the matter: no more participating in discussions, decisions, or voting. Period.
In the field of ethics, we would call Ms. Foxx an amoral technician. Amoral technicians find interpretations, ways to do what they want to do without technically violating the law. However, to the outside world, their conduct produces head-shaking, head-rolling, and exasperation. Colloquially speaking, it is weasel behavior.
UPDATE: April Perry, the chief ethics officer, and Mark Rotert, the chief of the Conviction Integrity Unit, for the Cook County State Attorney’s office, have submitted their resignations. Meanwhile, the Cook County Inspector General continues an investigation into the office’s sudden dismissal of all charges against Mr. Smollett.
In the Barometer’s experience, it is always a bad sign when your ethical officer resigns.