MSNBC legal analyst: Jailing Jussie Smollett is unjust

MSNBC legal analyst: Jailing Jussie Smollett is unjust
Cook County Sheriff's Office via AP

I really thought this story would be over once the sentencing took place but it’s not. Smollett’s family continues to encourage people to call the jail and “check in on Jussie.” In his day 5 update, Jocqui Smollett said his brother had been moved out of the psych ward where he was kept previously. He then went on a rant about Smollett’s innocence. “There is no evidence linking Jussie to this crime,” he said.



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Meanwhile, Smollett’s attorneys, having failed to secure a sentence without jail time, are demanding his immediate release on a variety of grounds including online hate which Smollett obviously hasn’t seen, a “compromised immune system” and protective custody which the defense requested.

The filing argues Smollett’s life is at risk because he’s been the target of “vicious threats” on social media and the online hate “no doubt reflects the hatred and wish for physical harm toward Smollett, which he may experience during incarceration.”

One of Smollett’s siblings has also been “bombarded” with disturbing phone calls after providing their phone number as the convicted felon’s emergency contact when he entered the jail system, a rep told The Post…

Smollett’s attorneys further argued the fallen star’s life is at risk because he has a “compromised immune system” and could die if he catches COVID-19 behind bars. They included an affidavit signed by a doctor to bolster the claim, but it didn’t specify which health conditions Smollett suffers from…

Smollett’s attorneys also griped that he’s in protective custody, which they said previously is a condition they requested but could have “extraordinary damage on his mental health.”

Yes, jail is a bad place and probably not good for your physical or mental health. I highly recommend people avoid it if at all possible. But this is what happens when you commit a fake hate crime and then lie about it for several years.


In addition to some of Jussie’s fellow actors, he also has a supporter in Paul Butler, a law professor at Georgetown and an MSNBC legal analyst. Butler says he knows Smollett is a liar but implies he’s only in jail because he’s black.

I don’t believe Jussie Smollett but I recognize when a Black man gets railroaded through a justice system that is out to get him. A rich entitled actor is hardly the most sympathetic face of reform. Still, Smollett’s case demonstrates that when powerful elites decide they want a Black man locked up, nothing and nobody — not even the elected prosecutor — will stop them…

He was charged with disorderly conduct. The charges were dropped in exchange for community service and surrender his $10,000 bond — an appropriate result for a first-time offender in a nonviolent crime.

But that wasn’t enough for many White people — and some Black people as well…

Well, no, that wasn’t an appropriate result. When State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office dropped 16 counts against Smollett her office sent around a memo looking for similar cases that they could provide to the media.

Foxx and her office then made public statements claiming the disposition of the Smollett case was “the treatment we’ve given to about 5,700 other people over the course of the last two years.” But Dan Webb’s investigation found that wasn’t true. “The CCSAO attempted to find anecdotal evidence of similar resolutions to support its public narrative that its resolution of the initial Smollett case was not an outlier, but struggled to find any similar cases resolved in a similar manner (let alone thousands as was implied by the Dismissal Press Statement),” the report states.


So, again, this wasn’t an appropriate sentence. It appears to have been a unique one which the Illinois Bar Association took issue with. Butler continues by claiming it’s the system and not Smollett’s hoax that threatens to discourage future hate crime reporting.

Sending a Black gay man to jail for lying about being attacked will not encourage hate crime victims to come forward. Instead, it sends the message that they, rather than their assailants, are subject to being incarcerated if authorities don’t believe their stories.

No one believed Jussie Smollet’s absurd story, certainly no one who has looked at the ample evidence against him. The only message his trial sends to hate crime victims is that blatant liars might (eventually) be punished. If anyone deserves blame for making things harder on real victims it’s Smollett who turned racial hate into an absurd circus or as Judge Linn described it, a badly written drama. Butler concludes:

As for Smollett, he is just another Black man serving time — in a system more perverted than his crime.

That’s not how I see it and, I suspect, not how most people in Chicago see it. Smollett is not just another black man and the system bent over backwards to favor him in a way it does for few other defendants. Whatever the opposite of being railroaded is, that’s what Smollett got, at least initially.

As for the system being more perverted than the crime? A delusional TV star hired two black bodybuilders to portray white racists and pour bleach on him in the middle of the night during a polar vortex. And he paid them for this crime by check. Sorry, but there’s not much more perverted and disgraceful than that hoax. Jussie deserves all the jail time to which he was sentenced.


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Jazz Shaw 3:01 PM on September 21, 2023