Kim Foxx and the Culture of No Accountability

February 11, 2021
Florian Sohnke

Cire Robinson’s death is on Foxx.

On the opening day of the trial of José Inez García Zárate, a San Francisco court was riveted by testimony delivered by Jim Steinle. The father of Kate, who was murdered by García Zárate on July 1, 2015, as father and daughter took a leisurely stroll along the Golden Gate City’s Pier 14, Jim Steinle tearfully recounted the ineffable tragedy while on the stand. Recalling his helplessness as he cradled his mortally wounded daughter in his arms, Jim Steinle revealed Kate’s final utterance was: “Help me, dad.

A crime which re-ignited the debate over illegal immigration, Kate Steinle’s death also compelled many to take a critical look at “sanctuary city” policies which allow municipalities to shield illegal immigrants from federal immigration enforcement officials. Steinle’s murder became all the more enraging and dismaying when it was later learned García Zárate has been deported from the United States multiple times and had been recently released after an arrest for a minor drug offense just previous to his firing the fatal shot which took Steinle’s life. Though federal officials had asked San Francisco not to release García Zárate, and to at least inform federal agents if he were to be released, San Francisco ignored both requests and allowed the seven-time felon to walk out of San Francisco County Jail two months before Steinle’s murder.

While García Zárate did not exactly lead a cartel, he did not lead an exemplary life and he did have an extensive criminal record. Regrettably, Steinle’s tragic death was swept up in a maelstrom of election politics and too often became a political prop for candidates dueling for votes on the immigration issue. Lost amid the debate was the fact, at the very least, García Zárate should not have been walking the streets. Otherwise stated, Steinle’s death was preventable had San Francisco officials exercised common sense and decency in the enforcement of law.

Five-and-a-half years after Kate Steinle’s death, in Chicago, a 12-year-old girl, Cire Robinson, was killed in a January 20 automobile accident caused by the recklessness of Daniel Regalado, who was at the wheel of a car which crossed a median on South Cicero Avenue and slammed head on into the car driven by Robinson’s father. A man with whom the law is familiar, Regalado was out on bond on three pending felony cases at the time he barreled into the car in which Cire Robinson was a passenger.

A man who marauded for a living, in one case dating back to 2018, Regalado faced a Class One felony for being a felon in possession of a firearm and a Class Four felony for reckless discharge of a firearm during an incident in which the Cook County SWAT unit was called. Regalado posted $500 bail and was released. Running afoul of the law again months later, Regalado was charged with felony manufacture-delivery of cannabis. Regalado was released on his own recognizance, though the judge forced him to settle for this encounter with the law by handing over $250. In his most recent transgression of law, Regalado was charged, once again, with a Class Four felony for possession of a weapon. For the totality of his previous crimes, Judge Ramon Ocasio freed Regalado for an additional $500 bail. It is also worth noting a grand jury returned 17 charges, including five for attempted murder, against Regalado for a brush with the law in 2015. Cook County prosecutors, however, dropped all charges against Regalado in 2017.

Like García Zárate, Daniel Regalado is not known to lead a gang of nasties, but both men had checkered pasts and their lives were scarred by drugs or violence. Similarly, both men had been warmly embraced with leniency by the justice system. While the off ramp from the road to justice provided to García Zárate is relatively easy to explain — it occurred in San Francisco — the mercy dealt to Regalado is almost wholly a consequence of the criminal justice reform policies established by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Part of a culture which has developed in Chicago under Foxx, the prevailing ethos of Foxx’s doctrine is to capitalize on the unilateral powers vested in the State’s Attorney’s Office on matters related to charging crimes to impede the prosecution of crime. In the case of Regalado, Foxx’s primary tool to thwart gaoling Regalado even temporarily was bail reform.  

A practice by which Foxx swears, the death of Cire Robinson drew blistering criticism from both the president of Oak Lawn, Sandra Bury, and a village trustee, Tom Phelan. Declaring Regalado’s state of grace a calamity of justice, Mayor Bury cited "multiple pending felony charges" against Regalado and demanded Foxx’s resignation.

"Kim Foxx has created a downward spiral of crime that is destroying our cities. She has dropped charges in tens of thousands of felony cases with charges such as murder, shootings, sex crimes and attacks on police. Cook County has [mobs] looting our cities because Ms. Foxx has made felony retail theft charges virtually impossible. We have surges in murder because violent thugs walk freely through the revolving doors of our courts," Bury said on January 26.

Utterly undaunted by the explosion of criticism against her, Foxx, as she often does, distanced herself from the mess which she has created while serving as Cook County prosecutor. In a statement flush with coldness and insincerity, Foxx shoved spokeswoman Tandra Simonton on stage, not to rebut Mayor Bury’s verifiable facts, but rather to explain matter-of-factly the role Foxx’s office plays in bail hearings.

"At bail hearings, Cook County prosecutors present to the judge all available information regarding the offender’s criminal history and charges related to the case. From there, the judge makes the final determination on what happens to the defendant, including whether that individual is a threat to public safety or can be released from custody with bail conditions. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office works to uphold public safety through the fair and efficient administration of justice and continues to prosecute cases to the full extent of the law," Foxx's statement read.

A statement replete with error and sanctimony, Foxx deftly skirted a crucial role the State’s Attorney’s Office plays in bond hearings in her statement. While bail is presumably granted to all arrestees, and Foxx’s office does present both charges and a defendant’s criminal history to a judge, it is also the obligation of assistant state’s attorneys (ASAs) to articulate in favor of higher bail or appeal to a judge to refuse to grant bail when the accused presents a threat to society by virtue of a grave charge and an extensive criminal history. Though ASAs are endowed with some latitude in bond hearings, they act at the discretion of Kim Foxx. While Daniel Regalado clearly met the threshold to be remanded without bail for at least one of his violent offenses prior to January 23, certainly his second weapons charge, that Regalado did not remain in custody is a direct result of ASAs under Foxx routinely declining to ask judges to set higher bail or refuse bail altogether. Though careful deliberations between ASAs and Cook County judges often took place during arraignments under Foxx’s predecessors, according to ASAs serving in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office today, the custom of engaging in constructive conversation with a judge over bail has been largely discontinued with the exception of extreme cases to meet Ms. Foxx’s expectation ASAs align themselves with Foxx’s legal perspectives and political objectives.

Kim Foxx did wrong and tried to weasel her way out of it.

Foxx’s statement in the wake of Cire Robinson’s death is neither welcome nor reassuring. Moreover, it does not detract from the revealing aspects of this episode. First and foremost, Foxx’s statement not only omitted the State’s Attorney’s Office critical function to seek either higher or no bail for more serious offenses, she failed to rebuke any judge Regalado stood before in court appearances. While Foxx could reasonably claim public criticism of a jurist is disrespectful and damaging to the independence of the judiciary, the Cook County court system is an entire subculture of Progressive legal minds, many of whom work in court to underpin Foxx’s reform measures. Foxx, needless to say, has no intention of scolding ideological allies, publicly or privately. Although Ms. Foxx’s apathetic statement explaining the role her office plays in bond court revealed how deeply misguided her legal compass is, only one week after Robinson’s death, she demonstrated how her legal methods are rooted not in seeking justice but in Progressive ideology. Meeting with Representative Bobby Rush and both federal and local law enforcement in a virtual townhall on February 1, Foxx turned a solemn discussion over the rash of carjackings besetting Chicago into a Progressive touchy-feely, lay-it-all-out-there emotional share-a thon. Outlining her office’s standard for addressing the carjacking crisis, Foxx expressed her impulse to avoid criminal offenders from being “hardened” to the justice system, and professed her inclination to figure out “all the stuff that’s happening around them (carjackers).” Another bungled attempt to camouflage her ignorance as sagacity, though Ms. Foxx’s simpering tones were intended to depict her as the all-forgiving Mother Teresa, Foxx only revealed a geek-like obsession with why crimes are committed as opposed to who commits crime. Though Ms. Foxx may loathe to admit it, what motivates criminal behavior should be left to social scientists, not an elected prosecutor.

The worst sort of hubris is the refusal to admit fault.

Like a Roman consul or autocratic dictator, Foxx believes she is behaving within the political norms of the day and within the guardrails of her office. Nonetheless, Foxx’s first term has been defined by wide-ranging reforms. Under Foxx, the basic standards for prosecuting crime have all undergone significant changes and the powers of her office have expanded exponentially, often trespassing over sacrosanct lines her predecessors would never dare traverse. Though Foxx considers her policies Enlightenment-like thinking, her embrace of the notion of redemption for violent offenders and her assumption individuals are not to beheld accountable for their deliberate involvement in criminal behavior has exacted heavy consequences. Under Ms. Foxx’s re-written rules for prosecuting crime, Chicago’s moral core has been hollowed, leaving victims of appalling crimes degraded, residents living in fear, and the value of life eliminated.

Kim Foxx has failed at a non-negotiable duty to protect the public. Although many were skeptical of her competence to lead the State’s Attorney’s Office, of the many rationales which justified a vote cast in favor of Ms. Foxx in 2016 one was her unremitting vow to usher in a new period of objectivity in the prosecution of crime in Cook County. A first-rate failure as prosecutor, Cook County residents have seen the Kim Foxx act for four years now and it has become tiresome. Residents have grown weary of Foxx constantly reminding voters of her birth into disadvantage, spouting off about her youth spent in Cabrini Green, and they are exhausted with her hyper-moralizing speeches. Though Foxx sought and embraced the power which comes with the office she holds, after four years, she has yet to learn along with the responsibility to make important decisions in the State's Attorney's Office, the essence of such a post is the obligation to correct policy when circumstances demand it. A woman who has not learned her policies are reducing public safety, Foxx’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the fiasco of bail reform directly led to Cire Robinson’s tragic death. Though the very existence of bail reform is creating a general menace and lawlessness on Chicago’s streets, individuals like Foxx can not learn from mistakes because they can not even admit, or even conceive, they are capable of committing errors. Doubly appalling, though the public recognizes the catastrophic consequences of bail reform, because Ms. Foxx attaches such importance to the reform measure, she is blind to the simple truth bail denied does not ruin the accused’s life.

Since being sworn into office in 2016, instead of prosecuting crime, the product of Foxx’s labor has been revealed to be a tireless commitment to creating a culture of no accountability. Instead of being open minded and guided by the truth, Foxx’s culture deflects blame away from criminal behavior, portrays remorseless murderers as victims at the mercy of an implacably harsh justice system, and sacralizes society’s worst criminals. While a responsible culture can withstand the actions of a handful negligent provocateurs, even if one agitator serves as prosecutor, Chicago is not a responsible culture. Until a measured, substantive, and thoughtful prosecutor willing to create a culture in which the law abiding and victims of crime are treated respectfully, and is disposed to mete out justice fairly and impartially is seated in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the conditions on Chicago’s streets will only continue to worsen.

The princess of psychobabble, Kim Foxx has forgotten the purpose of her office and whom it serves.

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