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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s a clean record now for actor Jussie Smollett. All 16 felony charges against the actor have been dropped by prosecutors, and the Delaware Valley legal community is buzzing about the surprising development in the case.
The initial charges against Smollett came after he allegedly lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack. Prosecutors said that based on the fact that this was a non-violent crime and Smollett’s community service in the past, they decided to drop the charges.
Prosecutors still believe that he lied about the attack. Smollett is still maintaining his innocence.
This high-profile case has left many with more questions than answers.
Eyewitness News spoke with a legal analyst to find out what could happen next.
“The whole thing doesn’t pass the smell test for me,” Lynne Abraham, who was Philadelphia’s first-ever female district attorney, said.
Abraham, who’s now with Archer and Greiner Law Firm, has a pretty good nose.
A former judge, Abraham said there doesn’t seem to be any transparency in the Smollett case.
“There’s no reason really why the court should have sealed the record,” Abraham said. “That may be an abuse of the judge’s decision and we’ll see if anyone who has standing can take action against the judge to make him or her unseal the record.”
The high-profile case even has Philadelphians reacting.
“He’s kind of a pillar to a few different communities,” Andrew Petruzelli, a Philadelphia resident, said. “It seems like with no explanation, it’s kind of ridiculous. It’s unfair for us not to know a little bit more about it.”
But there’s one thing many Philadelphians can agree on – if this were to happen to a regular person, the result would not have been the same.
“If this were an ordinary citizen, this would have never had happened,” Abraham said.
Abraham also said under the right circumstances, the U.S. attorney general could unseal the case and prosecute it as a federal hate crime.
For now, it will continue to linger over Smollett’s head since the prosecutors said they believe he’s guilty even though the charges were dropped.