Attorneys: Smollett shouldn't be liable for investigation costs even if he filed a false report

Tuesday night, Jussie Smollett’s attorneys made one final attempt to argue the actor shouldn’t be responsible for the $130,000 spent investigating his case. The attorneys were doing what’s known as arguing in the alternative, i.e. arguing along two different tracks that are mutually exclusive. On the one hand, they said Smollett shouldn’t owe the city of Chicago anything because his case was dismissed:

“My client from the beginning has maintained his innocence and disputed the city’s allegations,” said William J. Quinlan, of The Quinlan Law Firm, who filed the motion. He noted that “it’s going to be very difficult for the city to prevail in making a case my client should pay for overtime for a case ultimately dismissed by the state’s attorney.

“It’s ridiculous and a stretch to require him to do so.”

This is galling because it has been apparent to many of us for months that Kim Foxx’s behavior in the Smollett case was very odd and probably corrupt. A special prosecutor was appointed to examine her handling of the case in June. As Jazz pointed out last week, the big question now is whether or now she will plead the 5th. Of course, that might put a damper on her re-election prospects but it’s Chicago so who really knows.

But as I said, Smollett’s attorneys were also arguing along another line Tuesday. Even if he’d made up the whole thing (and they’re still denying that) he shouldn’t be responsible for the bill to investigate his police report because he had no control over what the city spent:

In the legal brief, obtained by Sneed, Smollett makes clear that he is not admitting he made false statements. “Mr. Smollett disputes any and all assertions that he made a false statement and was not a victim of a crime,” a footnote on the first page of the motion reads.

But even if he did, “The filing of a police report, in and of itself, does not necessitate a sprawling investigation nor does it, as a practical matter, usually result in an investigation as extensive as the one the CPD chose to undertake in this case,” the motion says.

“ … The City has failed to allege that Mr. Smollett was similarly ‘well aware’ that his statements to police would result in 1,836 hours of police overtime, or any other reasons why he should have known this would have been the case.”

A police investigation isn’t like ordering soup off a menu. Solving a crime takes whatever time it takes. Not even the police themselves could know that ahead of time. However, what Smollett did know is that every bit of his police report was false when he filed it. And given that he’s a (minor) celebrity and that his intent from the beginning was to garner media attention with his claim of a racially motivated hate crime, it was foreseeable that the story would become big news. Once that happened, it was also inevitable the city would devote whatever resources were necessary to solve the case.

In other words, Smollett wouldn’t have known exactly how many hours of overtime were involved but he clearly hoped his claim would be a big deal. It’s a bit late now to say it wasn’t his choice. He really ought to be personally liable for all the resources wasted unraveling his lie. In case you’ve forgotten just how shameless a liar Smollett is, here’s a reminder: