Jussie Smollett feels victim of smear campaign
Jussie Smollett claims he's been a victim of a public smear campaign by Chicago officials.
The 'Empire' actor was told earlier this week he wouldn't be charged over allegations he orchestrated a racist and homophobic attack on himself in January, leading to local police officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to slam the decision, and the 36-year-old star's legal team has now hit back over the release of "one-sided evidence" against their client in the wake of the case dismissal.
Attorney Patricia Brown Holmes said in a statement: "We are disappointed the local authorities have continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett after the charges against him have been dropped.
"The facts are clear. The Assistant State's Attorney appeared in court and dismissed the charges. Mr. Smollett forfeited his bond. The case is closed. No public official has the right to violate Mr. Smollett's due process rights.
"Mr. Smollett, like every citizen, is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
"Mr. Smollett is entitled to the same Constitutional protections as any citizen charged by the government with a crime -- including the right to speak freely about his innocence, the right to be viewed as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and the right to hold the State to its burden of proving him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. None of that has occurred in this case."
The lawyers went to criticise the Cook County State's Attorney's Office for "flip-flopping" its position on the case "several times in the past 24 hours."
The statement continued: "We respectfully request all government agencies involved live up to the ethical tenants of their office, state and local law, Supreme Court Rules on Trial Publicity as well as the Rules of Professional Responsibility for lawyers and prosecutors.
"We will not try this case in a court of public opinion. There is no case to try. The case was dismissed. We should all allow Mr. Smollett to move on with his life as a free citizen."
The statement was released after it was claimed prosecutors received an email asking them to cite examples when felony charges were dropped in the way they were for Jussie's case, after his allegations were dismissed because he forfeited his bond and had already completed community service, which would likely have been his punishment if he'd been found guilty.
The memo was obtained by a CBS affiliate in Chicago and read: "We are looking for examples of cases, felony preferable, where we, in exercising our discretion, have entered into verbal agreements with defense attorneys to dismiss charges against an offender if certain conditions were met, such as the payment of restitution, completion of community service, completion of class, etc.
"Nobody is in trouble, we are just looking for further examples of how we, as prosecutors, use our discretion in a way that restores the victim, but causes minimal harm to the defendant in the long term."
The actor's community service has attracted further controversy as it wasn't undertaken as part of a plea deal and the star spent just a few hours over the weekend at social justice organisation Rainbow PUSH.