As you have no doubt heard by now, the Jussie Smollett case took an unexpected left turn yesterday as the prosecutor stunned the world by dropped all charges.
Yes, all 16 counts – dropped.
The bizarre move has angered virtually everyone, and united the left and the right under one cause: justice.
To wit, even the far-left Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, is pissed!
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is very strongly hinting at corruption in the State’s Attorney’s Office, calling the decision to drop the charges against Smollett a “whitewash of justice.”
The Mayor added, “From top to bottom, this is not on the level.” He called for accountability from the prosecutors.
Emanuel was joined by Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson who said he didn’t feel justice was served by letting Smollett off the hook.
What’s more, Johnson said if Jussie was, in fact, innocent … he should’ve taken his day in court, and not broker a backdoor deal in secrecy. Bigger picture — Johnson feels the City of Chicago is still owed an apology, as he believes Jussie carried out a hoax.
But all may not be lost.
The local DA may have dismissed the case, but the Feds have not.
Our friends over at Fox News explain how the Feds may indeed still bring charges, and potentially more serious charges:
Jussie Smollett may have had the criminal charges related to his alleged staged hate crime dropped, but the "Empire" star may still face both federal charges and civil lawsuits in connection to the scandal.
On Tuesday, the Cook County State's Attorney dropped 16 felony counts against the actor stemming from his allegedly false police report about a hate attack he claimed to have suffered on Jan. 29.
Though he escaped criminal charges, the legal fallout may not be over for Smollett.
Former Cook County prosecutor-turned-criminal-defense-attorney Andrew Weisberg told Fox News on Wednesday that Smollett's case is unusual for several reasons — most notably the speed at which his charges were dismissed. Smollett was indicted on March 8 and his charges were dismissed on March 26.
"It was such a quick turnaround. Pretrial diversions are usually a year long, and this happened so quickly," Weisberg said, adding that he suspects the case's notoriety accelerated the proceedings.
Weisberg, who was working in the courthouse the day the dismissal was announced, was baffled by the proceedings. "I figured they had a plea agreement and I was shocked when I heard the dismissal," he admitted. "I can't figure it out. I don't think it's anything corrupt or anything terrible — but it's an unusually great outcome for [Smollett]."
Weisberg explained that in a best-case scenario for similar false police report cases that he's worked on, the defendant will get deferred prosecution, but that it's still somewhat rare because of the amount of work police put in to investigate claims. In most cases, he said, a defendant may be sentenced to probation and have to pay restitution to the cover city's estimated expenses.
In one similar case he recently worked on, Weisberg said that police told prosecutors they put in too much work to drop the charges and that the city estimated the expenses to investigate the false claim amounted to about $8,400 for three detectives in a single day's work. "In [Smollett's] case, they put in 10 times the work. This would cost [the city] hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars."
Weisberg said that the repercussions of the dismissal will reverberate throughout Cook County going forward, noting, "A lot of criminal defense lawyers are the ones who will bring this [case] up and ask for similar treatment."
Smollett also may face federal charges of mail fraud, as the FBI is investigating whether or not he also sent himself hate mail laced with white powder a week before the alleged attack occurred. If convicted, Smollett could face up to a decade in prison.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano previously said that dropping charges in a case like this is "almost unheard of" and offered two possible explanations for alternatives: "Either because the government could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt notwithstanding the evidence it has, or because it decided to grant Smollett what's called a 'deferred prosecution,' which means a short period of probation, at the end of which the charges would be dismissed." A deferred prosecution would also expunge Smollett's record at the end of the probationary period.
On Wednesday, Napolitano said on "Varney & Co." that due to Smollett's expungement, he can now legally say under oath that he was never indicted for the alleged crime and that if a judge's mind were to be changed about the case, its records could be unsealed.
However, Smollett could never be charged in relation to the alleged hoax ever again due to the language of the nolle pros ruling, Weisberg said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also considering suing the actor to recoup some of the money the city wasted on the lengthy investigation, according to reports, though Weisberg thinks that is unlikely to actually happen because the city would have to re-litigate the entire case in civil court.
Smollett's attorney, Patricia Brown-Holmes, said in a press conference Tuesday that it was not a deferred prosecution and that the records in the case were sealed.
Republican Senator John Kennedy (no, not THAT John Kennedy) has been very vocal, urging the Department of Justice to get involved.
We agree sir!
Take a look at what he had to say, as reported by the Washington Times:
A Republican senator said Wednesday that the federal Justice Department should look into bringing charges against actor Jussie Smollett after local prosecutors in Chicago expunged their case against him.
Sen. John Kennedy called the locals’ move “another example of Hollywood privilege,” and said it’s worth finding some way to make sure the actor doesn’t get away without some punishment.
Mr. Kennedy, a first-term Louisiana senator and member of the Judiciary Committee, said ordinary Americans accused of the same behavior “would be put under the jail.”
“Since Chicago prosecutors refuse to do their job, the U.S. attorney should review the case for violations of federal crimes,” he said. “I don’t buy that Mr. Smollett should be excused for his crime because it was nonviolent. That’s not criminal justice reform.”
Mr. Smollett initially reported he was the victim of a hate crime, saying white Trump supporters targeted him for being black and gay. Police investigated and instead concluded the actor staged the incident to try to boost his television career.
Mr. Kennedy said that was not the way it is supposed to work.