"We will not try this case in a court of public opinion," Smollett's attorney said in a statement. "There is no case to try. The case was dismissed.
Jussie Smollett's attorney is going on the counter-offensive after Chicago officials have continued to come down hard on the "Empire" star after charges were dropped against him.
Immediately after the charges were dropped in relation to allegations Smollett had faked a hate crime against himself and filed a false police report, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago PD Superintendent Eddie Johnson were on television blasting the decision, with Emanuel calling it a "whitewash of justice."
Smollett's attorney, Patricia Brown Holmes, responded to what she's describing as a "smear campaign" of "one-sided evidence" by the Chicago PD with a statement of her own now that the case is officially closed and sealed.
"We are disappointed the local authorities have continued their campaign against Jussie Smollett after the charges against him have been dropped," Brown said in the statement. "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."
As part of the case's disposition, Smollett has agreed to some community service work and will forfeit his $10,000 bond. He was facing 16 felony charges
Holmes went on to emphasize that every United States citizen remains innocent until proven guilty, and Smollett has not been proven guilty of anything. Even the prosecutor who dropped the charges told CBS News he believes Smollett is guilty. This is an unusual insistence of guilt from various public officials after dismissal of a high-profile case that's left many scratching their heads.
But the Cook County State Attorney's Office explained that this is not an unusual outcome for a non-violent crime like this, and in fact thousands of similar cases have been resolved via this "alternative prosecution." According to the office, this is so resources can be better utilized toward more violent crimes.
"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," Holmes' statement continued.
Smollett's attorney went on to accuse the government officials and agencies of failing to live up to their ethical obligations, as well as legal obligations. "We will not try this case in a court of public opinion," the statement continued. "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."
How his life moves on remains uncertain. Smollett has already been written out of the final two episodes of "Empire" this season. Deadline reports that the show is looking likely for renewal, but Smollett is unlikely to return.
"Things are so unclear and there is a feeling that this isn't over, that there's more to come," an insider told the outlet. Smollett is still being investigated by the FBI over a hate letter received on the set of 'Empire' to see if the actor wrote it himself. If found guilty, he could still face 5-20 years behind bars.
But the bottom line might just be public opinion. "Empire" has settled into a solid performer for Fox, but it is no longer a ratings juggernaut, and it saw its ratings decline in the wake of the initial allegations against Smollett.
An ongoing public "smear campaign" against the actor by the city of Chicago is certainly not helping, which is at least in party why his attorney is trying to get out in front of it. Smollet has maintained his innocence on all of these charges, including the allegations he still faces.
Caution has already cost Smollett the final two episodes of the season, and as the real-life drama surrounding him only continues to escalate and complicate, there is every chance it could also cost him the show, no matter the ultimate legal outcome.