A top Cook County prosecutor resigned this week, saying he “can’t continue to work for an administration I don’t respect.”
Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Jim Murphy stepped down Friday after 25 years of service, explaining that he could no longer work under Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who he said is “more concerned with political narratives and agendas than with victims and prosecuting violent crime,” adding, “that is why I can’t stay any longer.”
“I wish I could stay,” he wrote in an office-wide resignation letter obtained by CWB Chicago. “However, I can no longer work for this Administration. I have zero confidence in leadership.”
He detailed an incident several months ago in which Foxx called him into a meeting to discuss bond hearings he was part of, including one that involved a “massive shootout” where a woman walking to a store was fatally shot when she was caught in the crossfire.
Foxx expressed anger during the meeting about a newspaper headline that said a suspect would not face a murder charge because of the “Safe-T Act,” which requires prosecutors to present a higher burden of proof to hold accused criminals until trial, according to the letter.
“That is what is wrong with this administration. I’ve seen day after day,” Murphy said. “How many mass shootings do there have to be before something is done.”
Murphy listed several reasons for his resignation: the Safe-T Act, Foxx’s rush to eliminate cash-bail while brushing aside his concerns, and “dangerously” low staffing levels in all units and bureaus in Foxx’s office, including one or two-person courtrooms.
“If this administration was truly concerned with effectively fighting violent crime, then they would fully staff those courtrooms and units,” he wrote. “Meanwhile the rest of us are overworked, overstressed, and under-resourced. But at least we were allowed to wear jeans in July.”
The resignation comes weeks after Foxx told officials at a county board committee hearing that 235 people, including attorneys, had resigned from her office since July of last year, according to the Chicago Tribune. In comparison, the year before the pandemic 130 staffers resigned.
About one-third of assistant state’s attorney (ASA) spots have been vacated and refilled from January 2020 to June 2022, according to the report. The office made 280 legal hires in that time period but staffing has still not reached pre-pandemic levels.
The report cited several reasons for the high turnover: a lack of support from the downtown executive-level staff during Covid, resentment over the Jussie Smollett hate-crime hoax case and how leadership handled the public uproar over a bond proffer related to the police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last year. Murphy was placed on leave in April 2021 for telling a court that Toledo was holding a gun when the officer fired. Bodycam footage showed Toledo dropped a gun and was raising his hands when he was shot by Police Officer Eric Stillman.
Meanwhile, the resignation of the head of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau, Natosha Toller, further rocked morale.
“We’re so short of attorneys, there’s twice as much work with no help,” one prosecutor told the paper. “And really, you’re setting people up for failure. Anything can blow up in your face. The expectations are not manageable.”