Jussie Smollett Could Face Federal Trial

rawpixel-1055781-unsplash-1-300x201The former Empire star who allegedly got himself beat up to provoke racial tensions could still face the same charges again. Typically, double jeopardy would prevent such a trial from ever occurring, but a little-known precedent established right here in Cook County may allow prosecutors to file charges again after charges against Smollett were dropped by lead prosecutor Kim Foxx.

Prosecutors will use the long-decided case of mafia enforcer Harry “The Hook” Aleman as precedent for bringing new charges against Smollett. In Aleman’s case, Cook County judge Michael Toomin ruled that because the judge in the original case had been bribed, the failed conviction and consequent acquittal did not count and allowed Aleman to be charged again with the same crimes

Toomin is the same judge who will hear prosecution arguments as to why Smollett should be tried again. The argument appears to be that Foxx should have recused herself from the case and since she did not, the entire episode was invalid from start to finish.

Double Jeopardy

Double jeopardy prevents defendants from being charged over and over again on the same charges. As an example, OJ Simpson can never be charged again for the murders of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. However, double jeopardy is not as far reaching as some people believe. For instance, Smollett could still face federal charges even though he was acquitted of state charges. Rarely would the federal government intervene in a case that was already decided at the state level. It could happen, but it just does not.

In this case, Michael Toomin’s point was that Aleman was never in jeopardy to begin with because the case was fixed so he could be tried again since it does not constitute double jeopardy. However, that is a far cry from the Smollett case.

Aleman faced a bench trial in 1972 after being charged with the murder of Teamster’s dockworker William Logan. Despite hearing evidence from an alleged accomplice of Aleman, the judge presiding over the case and rendering the verdict determined that Aleman was not guilty and acquitted him. Years later, a mob informant and former mob lawyer admitted to delivering a $10,000 payment to the judge.

In 1993, Aleman was charged with the murder of Logan, but the defense invoked double jeopardy in order to prevent the trial from happening. Toomin presided over those hearings and ruled in favor of the prosecution, saying that Aleman was never in jeopardy and that the prosecution of Aleman was void.

Now the same argument can be used to revive the Smollett charges even though there is no smoking gun like there was in the Aleman trial. Toomin has gone on record saying that the prosecution of Smollett was botched from start to finish. While Foxx did recuse herself from overseeing the prosecution, she appointed Dan Webb who later dropped the charges.

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