Good Law | Bad Law #131 - What the hoax? A conversation about the Jussie Smollett case w/ Dan McConkie

Aaron Freiwald, Managing Partner of Freiwald Law and host of the weekly podcast, Good Law | Bad Law, is joined by Professor Dan McConkie to talk about the Jussie Smollett hate crime/hoax case.


As former state and federal prosecutor in California for eight years, Professor McConkie brings a keen insight to the story and the broad implications of this much-publicized and controversial case.  By now most of us are familiar with the Jussie Smollett incident; if not, you can find some background here.


Smollett, an actor on the Empire TV show on Fox and a singer, last January claimed he was the victim of a hate-inspired assault in downtown Chicago.  He set off a massive police investigation and inspired nationwide support, particularly because the two “assailants” supposedly hurled racial and homophobic insults while invoking President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.  Then the investigation shifted its focus to Smollett himself.  In March, he was charged with 16 felony counts related to making false report to the police.  In short, Smollett was charged with a hoax.  Just two weeks later, in a quiet, secretive proceeding in court, the Chicago County Attorney dropped the charges.  Yet, Smollett was not exonerated.


What the hell happened?  Professor McConkie and Aaron work through the underlying facts to sort out the details before turning to questions about the impact of this.  What about real hate crimes and the rise of such violence in our country?  Was the County Attorney’s decision to drop the charges just a case of routine prosecutorial discretion?  Did she handle herself in a responsible and ethical way?


With all of the twists and turns and resulting opinions on why he was allowed to walk away free and clear, we ask the question, how will it affect public trust in law enforcement and the criminal justice department?


What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.


Host: Aaron Freiwald

Guest: Dan McConkie