If there’s an honest explanation for Chicago prosecutors to let Jussie Smollett walk, I and everyone else who wants to believe in the justice system would love to hear it.
What the Smollett prosecutors did was an outrage and slap in the face to the citizens of Cook County, Illinois, police, prosecutors and grand jurors who reviewed the evidence and indicted him on multiple counts. You knew the fix was in by the mere fact that police and prosecutors, who work hand in glove every day, were not advised of this decision beforehand and learned of it just like we all did - on TV.
In complete irony, the prosecutor did not say that Smollett was innocent. Rather, he indicated that Smollett committed the crimes but that this “resolution” was appropriate. What?
Smollett was accused of very serious crimes. A man with money, fame and power decided to fake a hate crime, setting the city and police on edge, as they expended valuable resources (that’s taxpayer dollars, folks) to catch the phantom “perpetrators.”
In truth, it was Smollett engaging in an ongoing conspiracy, lying repeatedly to police, causing public outrage and making race relations even worse. It turns out it was all an attention-getting hoax by Smollett - as if the attention he already receives being a celebrity was not enough.
When people fake crimes they diminish the real victims of crime. Smollett’s alleged actions deprecated those in need of protection of these laws. His actions will later cause people to be suspicious of genuine allegations. Thank you, Smollett, for making it harder for true victims of crime to be taken seriously.
I mention all of this because this is how prosecutors view cases. Make no mistake: As a former head prosecutor myself, Smollett’s case would have been taken very seriously. The need to deter such conduct is powerful and the resources expended by police were considerable.
Smollett shows not an ounce of remorse, not so much as an “I’m sorry.” People make mistakes and when they account for them it means a lot. But to this day, he continues to deny the allegations. By doing so, he calls into question the police work, the grand jury findings, and ironically, the very prosecutor who let him off the hook.
These are all factors that warranted a conviction at a minimum, and if I were handling the case, a plea to some county jail time to make the point that no matter how powerful, how famous, how many friends you have in high places, you will be treated like everybody else. The opposite occurred here.
Everybody else? Yeah, like the little guy. The less “connected” defendant who is forced to plead guilty to far lesser crimes for far harsher sentences. It is those low-level offenders who have a right to be angry at the harsh treatment they received because they are not part of the rich and powerful class. Many poor defendants don’t have the money, education, job prospects or chances in life that Smollett had. Oh, how good it is to be a Jussie Smollett!
The defense attorneys in Cook County should be lining up to ask the for the same sweetheart deal for their clients. Wow, no plea, no conviction, no jail, a sealed record, a small fine and a measly term of community service sounds good to me. The defense attorneys should ask, “If you gave Smollett such a 'kiss' why not my client, who did far less?” But don’t hold your breath. I bet the system of incarcerating low-level offenders will keep rolling along. The press should follow this closely to expose the hypocrisy that occurred here.
We all know why this happened: Politics. District attorneys in Illinois are elected, rather than appointed to office. In New Jersey, our system is appointment by the governor. This is done for the very reason of taking politics out of prosecution. When I was appointed a prosecutor, I didn’t have to worry about angering my political allies. Make no mistake about it, politics intermingled with prosecution is a toxic cocktail to the justice system. It poisons it!
Further, we are learning people in high places reached out the DA, who was receptive to their calls. She should have politely told them this is a law enforcement matter and refused to discuss the case, indicating that the case will be determined on facts and law, not political pressure or favors.
If I represented the mayor or police, I would advise them to file a civil suit against Smollett. I would be seeking money damages as the taxpayer dollars funded this farce, and police resources wasted pursuing this bogus claim, were immense. Then, the civil discovery process would expose the facts of this case that have amazingly been “sealed” by the court – something I have never seen before. But, they can’t fool us. We know it is bad, a coverup, a miscarriage of justice.
Justice itself was wounded yesterday. Shame on the prosecutors for lessening the reputation of prosecutors all over the nation who are doing their best to serve their citizens, rather than themselves personally.