Veteran prosecutor slams Kim Foxx in blistering resignation letter: ‘Zero confidence’ in her leadership

James Murphy, a longtime assistant state’s attorney, zeroed in on many of the issues that have made Foxx a target for opponents, arguing she’s gone easy on some defendants accused of violent crime.

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Then-Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in December of 2021.

Then-Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy speaks to reporters at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in December 2021. Murphy issued a scathing criticism of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a resignation letter sent Friday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

A 25-year veteran prosecutor issued a stinging rebuke of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a letter announcing his resignation Friday, slamming his now former boss for being “more concerned with political narratives and agendas than with victims and prosecuting violent crime.”

Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy described an understaffed office in turmoil in his email to colleagues, saying, “I cannot continue to work for an Administration I no longer respect.”

“I would love to continue to fight for the victims of crime and to continue to stand with each of you, especially in the face of the overwhelming crime that is crippling our communities,” Murphy wrote. “However, I can no longer work for this Administration. I have zero confidence in their leadership.”

Murphy, who could not be reached directly for comment, zeroed in on many of the issues that have made Foxx a target of opponents who argue she’s gone easy on some accused of violent crimes, as carjackings and gun violence have risen in the Chicago area.

Murphy wrote that he first started thinking about leaving the office early in 2021 with Foxx’s involvement in the passage of the SAFE-T Act, a wide-ranging law that aims to reform the state’s approach to criminal justice, including by narrowing the definition of who can be charged with first-degree murder.

Murphy said he supports a provision of the act that promises to eliminate cash bail but that he didn’t understand “the rush on an issue that was so important.”

He continued, “And it was in that process that I began to realize that the Administration’s ‘Mission Vision and Values’ was just a PR stunt, just words on a page. Fairness. Accountability. Integrity. Respect. Collaboration. Those words should mean something. … Yet time after time after time, this Administration has shown that they don’t live the meaning of those words. Or they don’t care.”

Representatives for Foxx’s office did not return messages seeking comment on Murphy’s letter.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a March news conference.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at a March news conference.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Last year, Murphy was briefly put on leave by Foxx when she claimed he “failed to fully present the facts” in a bond hearing when he described the situation in which a Chicago police officer fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village.

Murphy told a judge then that the boy had a gun in his right hand a moment before he was shot. That matched a portion of police body camera video of the shooting but did not specifically note that Adam dropped the weapon and had his hands in the air less than a second before he was shot.

Foxx ended up forcing out a higher-ranking prosecutor for failing to review the statement from Murphy, who was soon reinstated.

Murphy did not detail that controversy in his letter, but he did describe being called into a meeting with Foxx a few months ago “so she could criticize some bond hearings I did.”

Foxx focused on a news report about a man who avoided murder charges in a shooting that left a woman dead, due to the SAFE-T Act’s narrower definition for murder cases, according to Murphy.

“The State’s Attorney voiced her concern with the headline and the heat she was getting from her backers and never voiced any concern over the fact that this woman was shot and killed simply walking to the store,” Murphy wrote.

“That is what is wrong with this Administration. I’ve seen it day after day. How many mass shootings do there have to be before something is done? This Administration is more concerned with political narratives and agendas than with victims and prosecuting violent crime,” he wrote.

Murphy is the latest in a string of departures from Foxx’s office, where “staffing levels are at an all-time low and have been for some time,” the outgoing prosecutor said.

“If this Administration was truly concerned with effectively fighting violent crime, then they would fully staff those courtrooms and Units,” Murphy wrote.

Foxx, midway through her second term, is up for re-election in 2024.

Contributing: Kaitlin Washburn

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