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April Perry, Former Chief Ethics Officer Who Resigned in Wake of Jussie Smollett Case, Designated a Hearing Officer for Chicago Police Board

Perry's new designation is a contract position with the Police Board; therefore, all typical rights and benefits of employee status are not available.
April Perry, Former Chief Ethics Officer Who Resigned in Wake of Jussie Smollett Case, Designated a Hearing Officer for Chicago Police Board

CHICAGO - After a search for new Hearing Officers to conduct police disciplinary hearings, the Chicago Police Board has designated April Perry to one of the positions.

April Perry made headlines in 2019 while Chief Ethics Officer for Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx during the highly publicised Jussie Smollett Case. Perry was the Kim Foxx deputy who had sent the memo stating that Foxx had recused herself from the Smollett case.

Further investigation would reveal that Foxx continued to send text messages to her aides, including April Perry, after her apparent public recusal.[1] After the release of thousands of documents from the State's Attorney's office, it was also revealed that the decision to recuse or attempts for the case to be "diverted" to the FBI was made as early as within three days of the incident.[2]

Perry, as well as other top aides to Kim Foxx, would resign her position as Chief Ethics Officer.[3]

Later, after Chicago Judge Michael Toomin wrote Smollett’s case was rife with “unprecedented irregularities” that warrant the appointment of independent counsel “to restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of our criminal justice system” after a series of questionable moves from Foxx’s office, Foxx said she was just following “the advice and counsel of my then Chief Ethics Officer” when she decided against ordering a special prosecutor.[4]

In a follow-up email to reporters contradicting Foxx's statement, Perry wrote, “My advice was that First Assistant Joseph Magats seek the court’s approval and request a Special State’s Attorney appointment in this matter. I prepared a motion and order to that effect, and e-mailed it to the First Assistant on February 20. Shortly after sending that email, the First Assistant advised me that State’s Attorney Foxx determined that the motion and order should not be filed. It is a Chief Ethics Officer’s job to provide the best advice and guidance possible based upon the facts given to her at the time." She added, “Sometimes that advice is followed, sometimes it is not.”[5]

Per the Chicago Police Board's position announcement, the Hearing Officer’s primary responsibility is to conduct disciplinary hearings of cases involving allegations of misconduct by Chicago police officers.[6]

The Municipal Code of Chicago requires a Hearing Officer to be an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Illinois, with a minimum of five years’ experience. Pursuant to the Consent Decree entered in Illinois v. Chicago, the Police Board will use the following additional criteria to select the Hearing Officer:

  • Extensive trial experience;
  • Hearing officer or quasi-judicial experience (preferred, but not required);
  • In-depth knowledge of the law and procedure;
  • Excellent oral- and written-communication skills;
  • Ability to be impartial when conducting disciplinary hearings;
  • Ability to present complex legal and factual issues clearly and impartially to the Board members;
  • Professional integrity and good character; and
  • Not be a current employee of the City of Chicago Law Department, Police Department, or Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or an employee of one of these agencies within the last three years.

The Chicago Police Board indicated it had received 26 applications for the Hearing Officer position.

The Board stated their selection process included completion of an extensive application form, submission of a writing samples, two rounds of interviews with candidates, conversations with candidates' references and others in the legal communities, and a background check.

April Perry's new designation is a contract position with the Police Board; therefore, all typical rights and benefits of employee status are not available. Hearing Officers act as independent contractors and are be responsible for providing all equipment and materials necessary to perform the tasks of the job. Hearing Officers serve on an hourly basis. Compensation is currently $175 per hour. The amount of time worked each month varies based on the caseload, with an average of 15 – 20 hours per month.

Attorney Michael Panter was also designated as a Hearing Officer for the Chicago Police Board.

  1. Bradley, Ben, and Courtney Gousman. “Prosecutors' Texts Show Foxx Involved in Smollett Case after Recusal.” WGN. WGN-TV, April 18, 2019. https://wgntv.com/news/wgn-investigates/prosecutors-texts-show-foxx-involved-in-smollett-case-after-recusal/. ↩︎

  2. Staff, WBEZ. “6 Takeaways From Kim Foxx's Jussie Smollett Document Dump.” NPR. NPR, June 4, 2019. https://www.npr.org/local/309/2019/06/04/729576281/6-takeaways-from-kim-foxx-s-jussie-smollett-document-dump. ↩︎

  3. Grimm, Andy. “2 Top Deputies of State's Attorney Foxx, One Tied to Smollett Case, to Resign.” Times. Chicago Sun-Times, April 19, 2019. ↩︎

  4. Babwin, Don. “Judge Orders Special Prosecutor to Examine Jussie Smollett Case.” PBS. Public Broadcasting Service, June 21, 2019. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/judge-orders-special-prosecutor-to-examine-jussie-smollett-case.
    https://chicago.suntimes.com/2019/4/18/18619800/2-top-deputies-of-state-s-attorney-foxx-one-tied-to-smollett-case-to-resign. ↩︎

  5. Fonrouge, Gabrielle. “Ex-Ethics Officer Puts Kim Foxx on Blast over Smollett Case.” Page Six. Page Six, June 22, 2019. https://pagesix.com/2019/06/21/ex-ethics-officer-puts-kim-foxx-on-blast-over-smollett-case/. ↩︎

  6. “Position Announcement: Hearing Officer to Conduct Disciplinary Hearings,” October 30, 2020. City of Chicago. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/cpb/provdrs/police_discipline/alerts/2020/october/position-announcement--hearing-officer-to-conduct-disciplinary-h.html. ↩︎