At least, it doesn’t seem normal to me. Granted, in my job as a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, I don’t run across fake hate crimes that often. Most of my career has been spent prosecuting gang members for murder. (I speak here as a private citizen and not on behalf of my office.) But I have also spent my career in courthouses alongside Deputy D.A.s prosecuting a spectrum of crimes, from driving on a suspended license on the low end, all the way up to child molestation, sex trafficking, and serial murder — and everything in between. And I can tell you that it is not typical in my experience for 16 felonies to be dismissed for essentially nothing.

Smollett’s disposition is especially unusual given the resources put into this case. Keep in mind: “24 detectives were removed from regular cases, expending up to 1,000 hours” of police time, not including overtime. This was a major effort, and simply dismissing all charges contributes to the increasing suspicion on the part of regular citizens that there are two tiers of justice: one for the rich and famous, and another for the rest of us.