Jussie Smollett case "an example of justice for the rich and powerful," legal analyst says

Smollett case "justice for the rich": analyst

Chicago's mayor and police superintendent say they're furious that actor Jussie Smollett is no longer facing criminal charges. Prosecutors dropped all 16 felony counts Tuesday with little explanation.

"This is an example of justice for the rich and powerful versus justice for the poor," CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning."

Smollett was accused of faking a racist, homophobic beating, allegedly because he was unhappy about his pay on the show "Empire." He denies that and said on Tuesday, "I have been truthful and consistent on every single level since day one." Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the decision a "whitewash of justice."

CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz asked the lead prosecutor about their decision.  

"So you believe he's guilty?" Diaz asked.

"Yes," state prosecutor Joe Magats responded.

"So why drop the charges?"

"Our priority is violent crimes and the drivers of violence. Jessie Smollett is neither one of those," Magats said.

"Is community service and $10,000 enough to wipe this clean?"

"I feel that it is," Magats said.

Prosecutor who dropped charges against Jussie Smollett believes he's guilty

The charges were dropped after Smollett performed just two days of community service this past week, and because he agreed to forfeit his $10,000 bond even though the city spent more than $150,000 on his case. 

"This is totally not typical," Klieman said, adding, "I don't see it as any different from the rich people who got their kids into college by untoward means because they had money and power and what you have here."

She said the defense lawyer and prosecutor could have come to an agreement, "to do something like what we call continued without a finding or an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal."

"These are legal terms where you get six months to be able to be on good behavior. And you would pay much more money. You would think that you would have restitution here. You would admit guilt. You would do an apology to the entire city of Chicago. None of that happened here," Klieman said.

She also said it gets worse because "the defendant and his lawyer get out there first" and "proclaim his innocence."

"The lawyer in me thinks, well, what was wrong with the case? Was there something wrong with the brothers? Do they go arrest the brothers if he is then telling the truth? And it's only hours later that the prosecutor corrects this," Klieman said.

Klieman also pointed to the fact that the charges were brought forth by a grand jury.

"How do jurors feel in the future about their word being disregarded? This is not the typical nonviolent first-time offender. This is a person who according to this prosecutor, we just heard him, is guilty, was not the victim of a hate crime, who took a look at what happens in the city of Chicago that is roiled by race. And what he does is he cast himself in the role of a victim, turns the city inside out, and then it turns out that he's lying," Klieman said.