Jussie Smollett & The Court of Public Opinion

Since the initial reports of the Jussie Smollett incident first rattled news outlets across the nation in late January 2019, there have been many developments on the hate crime incident that have left many wondering what really happened. After a decision in March of 2019 by the state to drop all charges against the actor, a new set of charges have been brought against Smollett. The state is charging Smollett with 6 counts of felony disorderly conduct.

On February 24th, 2020 the actor entered a plea of not guilty. His defense team is planning to file a motion that the new case be dropped based on an argument of double-jeopardy, though the rules for double jeopardy would likely not apply here.

The new charges were filed against the actor after an investigation by former US Attorney, Dan Webb, which looked into how the State’s Attorney’s office handled the decision to drop charges against Smollett, found that there was enough evidence for the state to pursue charges against the actor. Webb stated that the Office of the Special Prosecutor “completed all of its investigative steps regarding Jussie Smollett, and has made the decision to further prosecute Mr. Smollett.”

When the news of the story initially came to light, the Chicago Police Department was treating Smollett like a victim of a crime. Within a few weeks the story completely flipped and the Chicago Police Department announced that Smollett was officially a suspect. On February 20, 2019, the state officially charged him with 17 counts of felony disorderly conduct. Following that news, the media frenzy surrounding the story exploded with the allegations that Smollett had staged the attack and the rumors spread.

Everyone had an opinion on the case with many celebrities and political figures chiming in with their opinions regarding the news. Public criticism regarding the handling of the case by the state’s attorney’s office led to Kim Foxx writing an op-ed with the Chicago Tribune, which welcomed independent review of the handling of the case. An independent review ultimately did occur and the state made the decision to charge the actor again.

While the court of public opinion seems to lean to one side, the case against Jussie Smollett has not been heard in a court of law. Jussie Smollett has maintained his innocence and responded to a civil lawsuit filed against him by the Chicago Police Department seeking monetary damages surrounding his case with a counter-suit alleging the CPD authorities acted “maliciously” against him.

If you or a loved one ever find yourself in a situation like this, having an experienced and reputable lawyer is necessary. Police departments do not respond kindly to falsified crime reports and, as we are seeing with Smollett’s case, tend to go after the accused more harshly than they would in other cases. Cases like this also tend to get a large amount of media coverage, which only complicates matters more. Next week, we will go more in depth regarding the legal aspects of the case and will discuss what happens when a person is accused of lying to the police, as well as what the rules are regarding dropped charges on the side of the prosecution team.

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Abdallah Law

Abdallah Law has been a successful law firm serving the people of Chicago and the surrounding area for years. This success can be attributed to one thing: Our team. At Abdallah Law, protecting our clients’ rights and safeguarding their liberties is the driving force of everything we do.

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