A mystery: Why were all charges against Jussie Smollet dropped?

I just learned this from CNN (click on screenshot):

As you probably know, Smollett was charged with 16 felony counts for faking a racist and homophobic attack on himself, and according to the Chicago Police, they had him dead to rights, including the cooperation of the fake “attackers” and a copy of the check Smollett paid them to stage the attack.

So why this sudden reversal of fortune? The only thing reported is this:

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately explain why the felony disorderly charges were dropped, except to say it came after reviewing the case’s facts, and in view of his agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond.

“After reviewing all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including Mr. Smollett’s volunteer service in the community and agreement to forfeit his bond to the City of Chicago, we believe this outcome is a just disposition and appropriate resolution to this case,” the state’s attorney’s office said in a statement.

If Smollett was innocent, why did he forfeit his bond? And if they intended to go easy on him, the prosecution could have recommended a light plea deal or a light sentence. I’m truly mystified. Wiping out a potential criminal record, which is what happens when charges are dropped, doesn’t seem to me like a “just disposition and inappropriate resolution to this case.” At the very least, he should have been tried and, if convincted, a sentence imposed as a deterrent. Getting criminal record may have been enough, ensuring that Smollett would suffer some consequences for what he did. Now, by all rights, he can go back to work without disapprobation.

If you’re a lawyer or a savant, explain this to me.


  1. jpetts
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Jerry – it needs no explanation: you know as well as I do it’s because he’s ***** and ***.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      Neither makes sense. There is no tendency to lighten sentences on black Americans, and there is no track record for doing so for gay people.
      I could suggest it was because he was ****, though.

      • merilee
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

        What’s ****? Crazy?

      • chrism
        Posted March 27, 2019 at 6:30 am | Permalink

        Seems he must now check his ***** and *** privileges.

    • jhs
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Yet, I would not be surprised if he was framed because he is ***** and ***.

      • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Framed? Do you actually believe a single word of Smollett’s complete *********?

    • Posted March 27, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      There seems to have been an explosion in the asterisk factory.

      I can’t correlate the numbers of asterisks to any obvious words, in particular *** has got me stumped.

      • merilee
        Posted March 27, 2019 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        I think ***=gay?

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 27, 2019 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          Is wordpress asterixing out our swears? Let’s see – fuck!

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 27, 2019 at 9:10 am | Permalink


            • Torbjörn Larsson
              Posted March 27, 2019 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

              That’s ****! Maybe someone @#?! up?

        • Posted March 27, 2019 at 9:12 am | Permalink

          Ah, thanks. So the assertion is that they let him off because he is black and gay. I have to admit that conflicts with my – possibly prejudiced – mental image of the way black and gay people are treated by American law enforcement agencies.

    • Dominic
      Posted March 27, 2019 at 7:27 am | Permalink

      rich & famous?

  2. Stephen Barnard
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    It may be as simple as that the State’s Attorney’s Office decided it wasn’t worth the expense (and possibly the publicity, which would add to the expense) of a trial. The forfeiture of bond points in that direction.

    I’m not saying whether that’s good or bad. Just that it’s plausible.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      I can see how keeping the $10K bond would be a kind punishment, and it would avoid a costly trial that uses resources best used elsewhere.
      But what does not make sense is that the charges were dropped. That should only mean there was no crime. If there was no crime, then the bond should be returned to Smollett.

      • Steve Gerrard
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        They sometimes drop charges if they don’t think they can win the case at trial. The fact that they filed 16 felonies suggests to me that it was not a clear cut case.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

        Smollet regularly gave one of the men money for personal training fees. How could they prove this case was any different?

        It’s a he said/they(brothers) said case, and there may be something in the brothers’ pasts that makes them unreliable witnesses.

        If Smollet was convicted, it would probably destroy his career. One stupid mistake would see him paying for the rest of his life, and the amount of money he would lose would be significant. He’d probably never get work as an actor again, especially in a major role. This would follow him forever, which I would argue is too heavy a price to pay.

        Don Lemon said that “within the community” there was suspicion of Smollet’s story from the start. So he’s no longer trusted. That’s tough on its own.

        Also, he may have had some kind of mental illness that prompted him to do this (if he did, Of course).

        I think this is probably a fair result.

        • Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

          I would agree but for the fact that Smollet has doubled down at every opportunity. I feel like society needs to get to the bottom of this even if Smollet’s trial can’t go forward for some technical reason. Most believe Smollet has gotten away with faking his own attack. This may embolden others. It has consequences.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

            I would agree, except in this case I don’t think it will embolden others. If I thought that, my take would be a bit different. I would still think a criminal conviction would be excessive because of his fame, but I’d want them to find some way to make an example of him to ensure no one else tries the same thing.

            • Helen Hollis
              Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

              It really isn’t about emboldening others, it is about minimizing hate crimes. True hate crimes.

            • Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

              They should have made him admit to the crime in exchange for letting him off so easy. Maybe they did and he wouldn’t take the deal. I’m guessing the true story will come out soon enough.

              • Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

                Agree. But since they sealed the record I don’t think it will come out. Seeing this idiot claiming this vindicates his true story pisses me off though.

              • Posted March 27, 2019 at 12:23 am | Permalink

                Me too! Although it is perhaps unfair, it looks like the court of public opinion is going to convict Smollet regardless. I’m not going to lose sleep over it. If Smollet wants to clear his name, he can have his trial.

        • Posted March 27, 2019 at 12:34 am | Permalink

          Not so sure this would destroy his career. I think if he cleanly confessed (or even if he was forced to trial) he could easily come back, after a suitable stint in the wilderness.

          I’m not so concerned with justice in the abstract: I’m willing to accept people getting lighter punishments than they morally deserve—or harsher, if that’s in the public interest. What’s happening here is clearly that the truth is being buried, and I suspect that can’t be in the public interest.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Not a lawyer or a savant, but having a trial for a poorly-done fraud doesn’t accomplish much. Publicity is what he was after, and there is no sense of giving him more of it.

      • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Don’t we need to deter such frauds, poorly done or not?

        • aljones909
          Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

          The police chief and Mayor have commented on the very significant costs to the police that Smollett’s fakery has incurred.

          • Helen Hollis
            Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

            Yes indeed. The taxpayer has paid for many detectives to investigate this case leaving no stone unturned. His forfeiture of 10 leaves us with really 9 because, Dorothy Brown’s office automatically gets 1.

            • tomh
              Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

              That’s a real shame for the taxpayers. Of course, some taxpayers might be more concerned about the $662 million the city of Chicago has paid out for police misconduct since 2004, including judgments, settlements and outside legal fees, according to city records. The payouts cover everything from petty harassment to police torture. That’s just through 2016, though. They managed to add another $45 million in 2018. But yeah, let’s worry about all the money they invested in this case. And believe everything this trustworthy Department tells us.

              • aljones909
                Posted March 27, 2019 at 6:44 am | Permalink

                I don’t think you can ignore someone who steals $1m because the organisation he steals from squandered gargantuan sums of money.

    • Forse
      Posted March 27, 2019 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      There are (apparently) close ties, going back, between Chicago DA Foxx and the Obamas, going back.
      She put out the word to let him off, then recused herself.
      So I’d say there’s that, and he’s a ********.
      Forse in Hong Kong

  3. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I have no information on this one. But will be listening for it. The news is so covered up with the political nothing else gets in.

    On the surface it makes no sense. This would seem to be a very poor way to support the police or the justice system if we still have one.

  4. tomh
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Perhaps the charges were dropped because Smollett was telling the truth and the Chicago PD was the one at fault. As the Washington Post put it, ” As recently as 2017, federal investigators concluded police had routinely violated the constitutional rights of Chicago’s residents, particularly those of color.”

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Then why did Smollet forfeit his $10K bond to the city? Wouldn’t he be suing them for false arrest?

      • Bob
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        “darwinwins” wins the logic prize on this one.

      • Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

        + 1

      • Glen
        Posted March 27, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Unless he considered his own case airtight, he’d be smart to forfeit his bond and just take the win.

        What seems most likely to me is that the police or DA made some sort of serious procedural mistake that would taint most of the evidence and make them look bad.

      • Zetopan
        Posted March 31, 2019 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

        Let’s see, Smollet stood around for quite a long time waiting for the police to arrive after being “convinced” by a friend that he should report this alleged hate crime, and when the police arrived Smollet still had the noose around his neck. That sure seems legitimate to me.

        On the other hand, if you are famous and pay enough money to the right person, you can pretty much get any outcome that you want.


    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      All the evidence points overwhelmingly to Smollett fabricating the incident.

    • BJ
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Well, that’s an explanation I never thought I’d see.

    • max blancke
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      His lawyer acknowledged that his Nigerian friends were the ones that attacked him, and the video of them buying the rope and hat has not been rebutted.

      Yesterday, Mark Geragos, who is listed as one of Smollett’s attorneys, was implicated in a $20m extortion case.

    • aljones909
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      “Smollett was telling the truth” Good one!

    • Posted March 27, 2019 at 12:50 am | Permalink

      A grand jury, not the cops, were the ones who decided to indict.

  5. Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    First Trump, and now this. 🙂

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Hey, I would take the Smollett case over Trump any day. Assuming it is as it had appeared, there were far fewer lies and low-lifes’.

    • aljones909
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      I think Trump is an odious, bumptious fool. Still, isn’t it a good thing an American presidential candidate wasn’t colluding with the Russians?

      • Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

        “Still, isn’t it a good thing an American presidential candidate wasn’t colluding with the Russians?”

        Only if he wasn’t. It is very unlikely that Mueller proved he was innocent. He just failed to prove he was guilty. Trump and the GOP would like to pretend that this proves his innocence but we’ve seen nothing like that. My guess is this is why Trump and the GOP don’t want the world to see the full report. It would show us that Trump is far from not guilty.

        • BJ
          Posted March 26, 2019 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

          An investigation using tens of millions of dollars, run by a man of superb integrity with a crack team of investigators over several years with a media and intelligence community eager to help at every step, and they couldn’t find evidence of what would be one of the greatest political conspiracies of all time. But you’re still convinced he probably did it.

          Come on, man. If the media, the Dems, activists, and regular people like you continue down this road, you’re just handing him the biggest possible weapon for the 2020 election, not to mention your own credibility.

          • Posted March 27, 2019 at 12:16 am | Permalink

            I didn’t say he probably did it. Nor do I know exactly what “continuing down this path” involves. I doubt that others will find enough evidence if Mueller was unable to so it would be a waste of time to continue down THAT path. However, the Dems have to fight back on Trump’s argument that the Mueller result means that it was a witch hunt after all. That is ridiculous. There was plenty of real evidence, none of which has been proved to be fabricated. Trumpers focus on the Steele Dossier because (a) Clinton was slightly involved and (b) it has the best chance of being proven wrong. However, last I heard nothing substantial in the Dossier has been proven wrong — not corroborated maybe but not proven wrong. It also didn’t trigger the investigation.

            As to other paths to investigate Trump, there are plenty of them. Trump supporters would like to pretend that the Mueller report proved to be a witch hunt and, by extension, any other investigations are witch hunts also. That is wrong. Congress has a duty to investigate, They shouldn’t do so without evidence but Trump gives us plenty of that.

            • BJ
              Posted March 27, 2019 at 10:16 am | Permalink

              They shouldn’t agree it was a witch hunt. The position should be that it was worthy of investigation, but the investigation turned up no evidence and we should therefore stop trying to intimate that there’s still likely evidence of collusion out there. Furthermore, Democrats continuing to run investigation after investigation of their own will smack of a witch hunt at this point, in a similar way to the Republicans repeatedly investigating various Obama policies and continuously trying to overturn the ACA.

              • Posted March 27, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

                I agree though I would say “insufficient evidence” rather than “no evidence”. As to future “witch hunts”, I agree that the Dems need to be careful. On the other hand, the election is about public opinion. Anything they turn up that shows Trump and his administration to be corrupt is worth airing, but they need to do it without getting too far ahead of themselves and not let the MSM exploit it for drama and ratings.

              • BJ
                Posted March 27, 2019 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

                I think we have largely found common ground! It’s amazing what a civilized discussion can do 🙂

                Anyway, even if the Dems do manage to play their cards right, the media and activists may very well get in their way and ruin it. I’d like to think the media learned a lesson from this whole debacle — and it seems a few people in it did — but I have a feeling most of them will be angry about the Mueller report and continue down the same path they’ve been on. We can only they don’t manage to hurt the Dems’ chances in 2020 too much.

              • Posted March 27, 2019 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

                New CNN poll says 56% say that “Trump and his campaign have not been exonerated of collusion, but what they’ve heard or read about the report shows collusion could not be proven.” Only 43% thought that Trump had been exonerated of collusion. Pretty close to Trump’s “favorable” ratings.

              • BJ
                Posted March 27, 2019 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, in the end, tribalism usually wins.

                Of course, when it comes to elections, you can’t count on that. It’s the people who don’t have a tribe who decide.

  6. Fran in LA
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    The check turned out to be a legitimate check for personal training services. I suspect the two Nigerians that he allegedly paid to stage the attack turned out to be less than credible witnesses, so the case did not look like an easy win for the prosecutors. And Smollett has friends in high places.

    • tomh
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      “Smollett has friends in high places.”

      What possible basis do you have for saying that? The city’s top police official issued an extraordinary public rebuke, saying Smollett “took advantage of the pain and anger of racism to promote his career,” obviously without the evidence to back it up. That doesn’t sound like friends in high places.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      And the Nigerian brothers just happened to be freezing their asses off at the scene of the alleged attack, just happened to buy red caps, just happened to by a rope.

    • dd
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      How is it known it was for personal training? It’s TMZ reporting that, I believe.

      And why is it now that the personal training explanation comes up for the check. His lawyers could have refuted it as they had a long time to do so, but did not.

  7. Michael Fisher
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    It is my guess that Smollett is guilty, but the CPD or someone at the prosecutor’s office made a procedural error [a break in chain of evidence, Miranda rights not read etc. etc.] which might mean the defence could request that certain critical evidence be suppressed at trial. Or one or more of the cops are under investigation for corruption in unrelated matters & thus a verdict might not ultimately be safe.

    I imagine the celeb lawyer dug out something like the above & all sides agreed to call it quits on a case that could go either way at great expense & some potential embarrassment for the Chicago authorities. Smollett forfeiting the $10k bond is interesting – perhaps a way for Chicago to say to the public “we lost this one, but we know he’s a liar.”

    I think I read [can’t find it!] that Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is unhappy about the deal, but I assume the decision went higher than him.

  8. Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    It may be that there were mistakes made by the police and/or attorneys that would likely make the case unwinnable. I’m not accusing them of this but it wouldn’t be the first time that police and prosecutors bungle a high-profile case.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

      That’d be my guess too.

      The fact that there were 16 charges where one or two would have been more appropriate to the circumstances (IMO), suggests that somebody wanted to throw the book at him. It’s possible that their anger at being hoaxed made somebody step over the line, or near enough to it that their evidence risked being thrown out as inadmissable; and Smollett can apparently afford plenty of lawyers. The prosecution may have feared it turning into something like an OJ trial.

      Also – ‘disorderly conduct’? Sounds a bit weird to me. Isn’t there a more appropriate statute for making a false statement or wasting police time?


  9. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    I just finished watching and this appears to be strictly something done by a judge. The mayor, Rahm Manuel and the police supt. Eddie Johnson said this was a total mystery to them. This was a good and justified case and they are disgusted with this. It was a Whitewash. This guy has been let off scott free and is running around saying he was innocent. They were extremely pissed.

    It is almost as bad as Trump…..

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

      The only additional thing I have is – the Prosecution did this on their own. And apparently left the police and mayor in the dark. There were 2 counts and then 14 more which would be a total of 16. All dropped and the guy walks. I think they said something about $10,000 fine which is nothing.

      • tomh
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know what you mean by “the Prosecution did this on their own.” It’s always up to the DA’s office, not the police department, to bring charges or not.

        • Randall Schenck
          Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          When the police are a good part of the investigation as they were in this case, the prosecution or DA rarely goes into court and reverses everything, lets the guy go free with no knowledge of the police. I don’t know about your experience in this but I would think that is a pretty odd way to go. And the police superintendent said so as did the mayor. If you know better, lets have it.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      I put up additional info but forgot to enter my email stuff.

      This deal was completely done by the prosecution and the mayor and police knew nothing about this. Another reason why they are so pissed. So all counts were dropped and the guy goes free.

  10. DW
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    What about the federal charges? My understanding is that they were the bigger ones. The part about him sending death threats along with a suspicious substance to himself is something the feds tend to take a dim view of. The article makes no mention of them whatsoever.

    • Curtis
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

      The fact that there are separate federal and state charges for the same act is a complete violation of double jeopardy. I know the Supreme Court issued a (mis)ruling using the “separate sovereigns doctrine.” It is absurd that someone has to defend themselves twice for one crime.

      I hope that the Supreme Court fixes this in the pending case Gamble v. United States

      • tomh
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

        They would be reversing a 170 year old rule, that 30 justices have voted for. Based on the oral arguments in December, it seems unlikely to be overturned.

      • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Umm, no. The federal charges relate to Smollett mailing himself a fake letter.

        • Curtis
          Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink


          You are correct. The federal charges were about a separate crime. I made an uninformed assumption based on other cases. My bad.



      • DW
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

        “The fact that there are separate federal and state charges for the same act is a complete violation of double jeopardy. ”

        In this case, at least, the charges are for DIFFERENT crimes. The local prosecution was the hate crime hoax that occurred that night in Chicago. The federal charges are around the earlier incident where he mailed himself a death threat along with a suspicious substance.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

        The “separate sovereign doctrine” has been around essentially since the founding of the Republic. It’s a basic correlative of “Our Federalism,” so I’d be surprised if SCOTUS abandons it in Gamble v. US.

        Moreover, even were the separate-sovereign doctrine to be abandoned, it would act as a bar on successive state and federal prosecutions only rarely. The Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit all successive prosecutions for crimes arising out of a single incident. Under the test established by Blockbburger v. United States, double jeopardy prohibits successive prosecutions only where the charged crimes have identical essential elements. Most state criminal statutes have at least one essential element that differs from those in any corresponding federal offense.

        Take Smollett’s case for example. My understanding is that he is currently under FBI investigation (but has not yet been formally charged) for a crime or crimes stemming from threatening letters he is alleged to have mailed to himself. Even in the absence of the separate-sovereigns doctrine, and even if Smollett had been convicted in Illinois state court of crimes relating to staging an attack on a Chicago street, the Double Jeopardy Clause would not prohibit him from being prosecuted on such federal charges.

        Finally, it bears observing how rare it tends to be for a defendant to be prosecuted successively in both state and federal courts for crimes arising from the same conduct. Although the Double Jeopardy Clause itself presents no bar, most jurisdictions have a policy of declining such successive prosecutions. On the federal side, this has been encoded in section 9-2031 the US Justice Department’s Manual as the so-called “Petite Policy.” Most states have corresponding policies on declining cases that have already been prosecuted by the Feds.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

          That’s what I was thinking.
          If the case was run properly it is pretty rare to get even a hint of double jeopardy.

          And police can fall foul of this too, as in the Rodney King case.

  11. jpetts
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Police union calls for investigation into the case after what appear to be improper contacts from the state’s attorney, who later recused herself.


    • jpetts
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Was recused. May not have done it herself.

  12. Posted March 26, 2019 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Letting Jussie Smollett off the hook for what basically amounts to a practical joke is far less concerning than letting Trump get away with treason as happened last Friday.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      I knew somebody was going to drag in Trump whataboutery here. Sorry, pal, but you don’t have a right to order my priorities. Plus your own website, to which you link, doesn’t identify you by name, which is a Roolz violation.

  13. yazikus
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    IANAL, nor a savant, but if I had to speculate it sounds like someone at CPD messed up big time and now they are all eager for it to go away.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Doesn’t sound at all like the Chief of Police wanted it to go away.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        The Chief of Police doesn’t necessarily know everything his underlings are doing, and even if he does he may not want to admit it for PR reasons.


        • Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

          The DA is not the police chief’s “underling”. But it still was a **** move to not give him an heads-up.

  14. Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    I would say the Office didn’t want to deal with any of the possible negative outfall of a trial. As for punishment, he’s “that Jussie Smollett,” now and forever more.

  15. Richard A Harrold
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I am mystified as well. As a former police and courts journalist, I am aware of certain statutes that allow first-time offenders to have their records expunged provided they complete terms of probation. But they generally have to plead guilty to get these deals. If they successfully complete the probation, their record gets expunged as if nothing happened. If they break probation, they already pleaded guilty, and then they are sentenced.

    In this case, I am baffled. On one hand, I see the CPD as an extraordinarily corrupt institution that has falsified reports and evidence to secure convictions.

    One the other hand, the state’s attorney’s office is no pristine institution either and has a long history of aggressively pursuing made-up charges.

    It almost sounds like a off-the-record plea deal. And yet, Smollett is publicly maintaining his innocence, which would likely be a violation of whatever agreement they reached (unsure of how double jeopardy would apply). I’m pretty sure the state’s attorney office does not get the bail, but perhaps I’m wrong. But wouldn’t that either go to the bail bondsman or the court?

    • tomh
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      “unsure of how double jeopardy would apply”

      He was never tried, so it wouldn’t. And, according to his attorney, there was no deal.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      Most state jurisdictions have what are usually termed “Deferred Prosecution” or “Pretrial Diversion” programs whereby first-time offenders in misdemeanor and less-serious felony cases are given the option of having their cases handled in a way that does not result in a formal criminal adjudication. Most such programs require the defendant to participate in some type of counseling or education program, to perform community service, and to pay any restitution or other costs resulting from his or her conduct. Upon a defendant’s successful completion of the program, the criminal charges are dismissed, and the person is usually eligible to have his or her police and court records sealed or expunged.

      The Cook County State Attorney’s Office offers such a program, although I don’t know enough about it to determine if Smollett would have qualified.

      Such a resolution wouldn’t have surprised me at all in Smollett’s case, but the prosecution’s outright dismissal of the charges against him did.

  16. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    Where o where is Ken Kukec when you need him?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      I make up for it by always showing up when you don’t need or want me — like a common Kardashian. 🙂

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 8:09 pm | Permalink


      • BJ
        Posted March 27, 2019 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

        “like a common Kardashian”

        That would mean any time and every time you show up.

  17. Juris Doctor
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    I’m a New York State (and Ninth Circuit) licensed attorney. There is much more to criminal charges than the public sees in the media.

    Prosecutors are trained to seek the “highest sustainable charge.” Every crime has a number of elements, each of which must be established beyond a reasonable doubt. Cases that look easy (I hate the term “slam dunk,” as there is no such thing in law) from the public’s viewpoint can face insurmountable challenges if there are problems associated with witnesses.

    If there are any problems establishing the charged elements through credible testimonial evidence then the prosecutor faces a judgment call: Do they proceed against a defendant where there is a substantial risk of dismissal, or do they try to enter into a plea arrangement to a lesser-included offense?

    From a professional standpoint, the fact that the prosecution dismissed every count of the indictment tells me a lot. For one, it tells me that there was a fatal (meaning, non-curable) defect in the indictment or that one of the key witnesses could not testify to the satisfaction of a jury. In that case, it would make sense to withdraw the charges instead of the prosecutors facing a malicious prosecution lawsuit.

    Put differently, if there were no flaw in the charging instrument, the prosecutor would be walking out with a plea to something.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

      Asst. DA Magats has stated there were no issues with the indictments, but rather he wanted to focus his resources on violent crime.

      • tomh
        Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        “Asst. DA Magats has stated there were no issues with the indictments, but rather he wanted to focus his resources on violent crime.”

        Seriously? And there are people actually believe that bit of pap?

        • Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

          Are you still working on your conspiracy theory, tom?

    • Joe Baldassano
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      I think you nailed it Juris Doctor. I agree.

  18. Thanny
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    The most parsimonious explanation right now seems to be corruption in the DA’s office.

  19. Davide Spinello
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    By paraphrasing Titania McGrath, it is as if the judge making the decision doesn’t want to prevent future victims of fake hate crimes from coming forward.

    • Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes, this is expected to invite more hate crime hoaxes.

    • aljones909
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      There were many of these fake hate crimes immediately after Trump’s election. What’s worse, people I respected on the science/skeptic team were gullibly falling for the hoaxes.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      The decision to drop the Smollett case appears to have been made by the office of the prosecutor (known as the “State Attorney,” in Illinois) alone, without any involvement of a “judge.”

      • Davide Spinello
        Posted March 27, 2019 at 6:02 am | Permalink

        You are right. Substitute judge with State Attorney.


    • Randall Schenck
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      That pretty much tells the story. It is still a sick carriage of justice.

  20. dd
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    And the case has been sealed.

    Is this normal in such a case? No explanation I have read is satisfactory.

    • Juris Doctor
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink


      I may need to amend my remarks above, because it look like he pleaded to the New York equivalent of what is called an ACD.

      Violations and ACDs are commonly sealed.

  21. dd
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    Probably the most complete reporting to date on the case’s being dropped:


    • Adam M.
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      That’s a good link.

  22. Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I wonder whether those other actors who bribed and cheated to get their underachieving progeny into top universities can use this precedent. Donate a few bucks and all charges are happily dropped and forgotten…

  23. ladyatheist
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    $10k would be a drop in the bucket that I would gladly pay to get out of a court case. That’s less than what the lawyers would have charged in just the first week!

    • Juris Doctor
      Posted March 26, 2019 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Of course. Anyone would. $10,000 is what an average felony DWI charge sets someone back and they gladly pay it to avoid the felony and reinstate their driver’s license.

  24. Christopher
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    There has not been one single thing about this case that has made a bit of sense to me at any point. I guess that is just how the world works now. Reason and logic have been binned in favor of the absurb and unpredictable.

  25. Taz
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow – Rahm Emmanuel did not pull any punches.

  26. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted March 26, 2019 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    So much for white privilege. Evidently rich assholes can get away with pretty much anything whether they are white or not. Meanwhile, poor blacks and whites are rotting in prison with multi-decade sentences for the equivalent of stealing a loaf of bread to feed their hungry kids.

  27. rustybrown
    Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    This stinks to high heaven. Just another example of Obama-era Democrat corruption. But the message it sends is clear: “If you’re a minority and want to perpetrate an anti-white hate crime, have a blast. If you’re caught, we have your back.”


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