Are External Factors, Rather Than Specific Facts, Guiding the Decision to Prosecute or Investigate?

April 2, 2019 Updated: April 4, 2019


On March 26, prosecutors dropped all 16 charges brought against actor Jussie Smollett, who had previously filed a police report indicating that he was the victim of a hate crime. The decision to drop the charges sent shockwaves through the legal community, as many people questioned the motivation behind this rash and unforeseen outcome.

While there have been several developments regarding the Smollett case in recent days, the decision to drop all charges raises serious concerns about our justice system and begs the question of whether the decision to investigate or prosecute someone is based “on the merits,” or whether other external factors guide the choice.

To date, no convincing reason has been offered as to why prosecutors dropped the charges against Smollett.

According to an article in the Washington Examiner, “Chicago police said last month that there was substantial evidence to suggest that Smollett had staged the attack and paid two men to carry it out.”

Assuming that’s true, why would prosecutors decide to drop all charges against Smollett? Moreover, why would the judge seal the record? Smollett is not a minor and the public’s right to know what’s in the record seems to outweigh any possible reason to seal the documents. As such, sealing the record is unusual under these circumstances.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel denounced the decision to drop the charges. Emanuel said in a Good Morning America interview, “You have the state’s attorney’s office saying he’s not exonerated, he actually did commit this hoax. He’s saying he’s innocent. They better get their stories straight. This is actually making fools of all of us.”

Emanuel, who wants the investigation to continue, further stated, “He abused the city of Chicago, he actually committed a crime here, he lied about something.”

The decision to drop the charges was marred with controversy, as an article in the National Review explained: 

“Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff calls up the state’s attorney, the state’s attorney hands off the case to her assistant, and the assistant gives Smollett the deal of the century. And all of this is so egregiously, transparently corrupt that mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel is spitting hot fire over this, as is Obama’s former chief strategist David Axelrod.”   

The sequence of events raises serious questions about why charges were dropped and who actually “pulled the strings” to make this happen. On the merits, the prosecutor should have vigorously prosecuted Smollett.

Other Investigations

What makes the decision to drop all charges more perplexing is the fact that other investigations have proceeded with much less, or no, evidence at all.

The confirmation process involving Justice Brett Kavanaugh is a perfect, yet tragic, example. Kavanaugh was accused by several women, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, of sexual assault. There was never any evidence substantiating the allegations and the allegations were all uncorroborated. Some of the women have since admitted to fabricating alleged incidents involving Kavanaugh.

Despite this, the media and congressional Democrats took it upon themselves to all but “convict” Kavanaugh without a scintilla of proof and without even affording him his due process rights. The judge and his family were embarrassed, humiliated, threatened, and shamed on the national and world stage.

A second example of an investigation that was allowed to continue involves the now-debunked Russia collusion narrative involving President Donald Trump. This “investigation” was allowed to continue for two years, although there was no evidence of collusion. Worse yet, the absence of any collusion was apparently known long ago.

According to an article on the True Pundit, Robert Mueller’s special counsel team “concluded months before the 2018 midterm elections there was no proof linking Donald Trump or his campaign to colluding with Russians during the presidential election.”

In other words, Mueller allegedly sat on the information in order to try to sway public opinion in the midterm elections in favor of the Democrats.

These troubling examples reflect a dangerous pattern. In both cases, Democrats pushed for or pursued investigations despite the absence of any corroborating evidence. Kavanaugh and Trump were relentlessly pursued, investigated, and “convicted” by many Democrats and their media mouthpieces. 

Why, then, is Smollett entitled to a “free pass” when Kavanaugh, whose record was impeccable, was dragged through the mud? Why would prosecutors drop the charges against Smollett (where compelling evidence apparently exists) while the president of the United States has been (and continues to be) the subject of relentless, vindictive, and baseless witch hunts?

Our system of justice must be transparent. Prosecutors should base their decisions on the merits of a case. Investigations should be pursued when there are legitimate grounds to investigate. Prosecutors and those with investigatory power cannot allow external forces to taint their judgment or permit personal feelings about a person or issue to guide their conduct.

Elad Hakim is a writer, commentator, and attorney. His articles have been published in The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, and other online publications.  

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.