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Dan Webb named special prosecutor in review of Jussie Smollett case

Dan Webb, in 1971 in his first case out of college, clashed with Michael Toomin when he was a defense attorney. Judge Toomin just named Webb special prosecutor.

Former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb takes the oath of special prosecutor before Judge Michael Toomin on Friday.
Antonio Perez/Pool/Chicago Tribune

The Webb net . . .

Don’t get caught in it.

Legal eagle Dan K. Webb, the new special prosecutor in the incendiary Jussie Smollett case, was about to board a ride on Disneyland’s “Space Mountain” with his grandchildren, when he got a call to come down to earth.

  • Translation: Criminal Court Judge Michael J. Toomin was giving him the Smollett job.

There’s the kicker.

Ironically, Webb’s first trial out of law school pitted him against attorney Toomin, the man who just appointed him to spearhead the probe of the alleged hate crime hoax involving “Empire” TV star Smollett — as well as Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s role in handling the criminal charges against the actor.

“It’s true,” said Webb, who joked for years about losing his first trial “in a feint to Toomin” after working as a federal prosecutor in the office of U.S. Attorney James R. Thompson.

“It was 1971 ... 50 years ago,” he told Sneed.

The backstory in Sneedspeak was a doozy.

Webb was prosecuting Toomin’s client, who had been indicted for robbing the same bank three times!

Toomin wanted to use an insanity defense — arguing anyone had to be crazy to rob the same bank three times!

Webb objected, and so did the legendary federal trial judge Julius J. Hoffman.

  • The buckshot: Toomin wound up losing the case but was successful in getting the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to send it back for a new trial, arguing Hoffman had no right to diss the use of an insanity defense.
  • The end shot: Thompson and Webb decided not to retry the case.

Just a thought . . .

President Donald Trump’s desire to buy the country of Greenland caused a gray cell to explode and the memory of my unexpected arrival in this now-melting icebound country decades ago.

It was fleeting.

It was freezing.

It was not on the itinerary; our plane, battered by a storm, unexpectedly needed to refuel.

We were permitted off the plane to go into a souvenir shop.

There was absolutely nothing to buy.

The end result. No result.

Just like Trump.

Sneedlings . . .

I spy: Cubbie catcher Willson Contreras spotted recently at the Willis Tower Skydeck. . . . Dutchie Caray, wife of the late Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray, celebrated her 90th birthday last week at Harry Caray’s Italian Steakhouse on Kinzie. Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg and wife Margaret; former NFL coach Marv Levy; Ald. Brian Hopkins and wife Colleen; radio host Roe Conn, attorney Mary Dempsey and former White Sox organist Nancy Faust all stopped by the b-day bash. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Sofia Richie, 21; Dave Chappelle, 46; Reggie Miller, 54. and Gery Chico, ageless and priceless. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Blake Lively, 32; Billy Ray Cyrus, 58; and Michael Cohen, 53.