When you’re about to let a celebrity walk scot-free on 16 felony charges for no apparent reason, the important thing is to do it in the shadiest way possible. Why shake public confidence in your office when you can really throttle it?
Cook County clerk’s office tells @ABC they were shocked that no written motions were filed with the court in connection with today’s surprising dismissal in the Smollett case. On top of that, the case has been wiped off their database as if it never existed. pic.twitter.com/KFKJp9yt7h
— Terry Moran (@TerryMoran) March 27, 2019
By day’s end it’ll probably be a misdemeanor to say the words “Jussie Smollett” at the courthouse.
I invite legal eagles to weigh in on how unusual, or not, the disposition of Smollett’s case was. Surely it wouldn’t have been unusual for a first-time offender to receive no jail time, particularly in a “victimless” offense like a hate-crime hoax. (There are many indirect victims, of course, but no direct ones.) But to let him off without insisting on a guilty plea to a single charge? And to do it without any formal paperwork? And to remove the case from the database, per Moran?
And to seal the records?
A defense lawyer who used to be a prosecutor in Cook County told Fox News that, yes, the end of the Smollett saga is curious. Not necessarily corrupt but certainly not business as usual.
“It was such a quick turnaround. Pretrial diversions are usually a year long, and this happened so quickly,” [Andrew] 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 says, a defendant may be sentenced to probation and have to pay restitution to the cover city’s estimated expenses.
Weisberg told Fox that he worked on a case recently where prosecutors refused to drop the charges against his client partly because police had put in too much work investigating his own false claim — a total of one day for three detectives, at a cost of about $8,400. Last month when Smollett was charged, sources told CBS Chicago that 24 detectives had worked on his case over the course of weeks for upwards of 1,000 hours collectively. More than 100 people were interviewed, footage from more than 50 CCTV cameras was reviewed, and more than 50 search warrants were executed. That’s the kind of concierge treatment a celebrity gets when he claims to have been targeted in a hate crime. The city will go all out to prove that it takes violent prejudice against vulnerable minorities seriously.
It was a sham, even according to the prosecutor’s office. And they let him go without demanding so much as a “sorry” in open court. Why?
The VP of Chicago’s police union unloaded yesterday on state’s attorney Kim Foxx, demanding a federal investigation into why she leaned on Chicago PD to transfer the case to the FBI after hearing from Smollett supporter Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama. Foxx ended up recusing herself before the charges against Smollett were dropped but the union wants to know if she had a hidden hand in yesterday’s outcome. It seems almost unimaginable that Foxx would have risked her career by intervening in a case that wouldn’t have resulted in jail time anyway, but cronyism isn’t always logical. Ask Michael Cohen.
Jazz has a post coming up about Smollett and his attorney allegedly contemplating filing a lawsuit of their own. I don’t want to step on his thread so all I’ll say is (1) against whom? and (2) even Smollett can’t be so stupid as to want to prolong this matter, particularly when the feds are still looking at him for possible mail fraud in the threatening letter he received. The smartest thing he could do at this point is walk away, try to let people forget, and go back to work. Assuming he still has a job to go back to — which he might not.
Here’s Don Lemon gently inquiring of Smollett’s lawyer whether a “favor” was done in this case.
Smollett lawyer Patricia Brown Holmes on Michelle Obama’s former top aide reaching out to Kim Foxx:
“No one political called that I know of, I don’t think any one political reached out to anyone, I don’t think they would have allowed anyone political to reach out to them” pic.twitter.com/HEca0iccby
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) March 27, 2019