Actor Jussie Smollett, known for his role in Empire, was convicted for disorderly conduct after making false reports to the Chicago Police Department in 2019. Smollett claimed that he was the victim of a hate crime. His claims were false.
Now, as noted via NY Daily News, “an Illinois appeals court on Friday declined to toss Jussie Smollett’s conviction on charges relating to his 2019 hate crime hoax – a decision the actor’s legal team vowed to take to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
For those unaware, the fake hate crime he reported revolved around claims that “he was assaulted by two men in ski masks,” as reminded by NY Daily News. “He claimed the pair forced a noose around his neck and shouted ‘This is MAGA country’ – sparking public outrage over an attack that seemingly targeted a gay and Black actor.” This led to an investigation that ultimately led to the realization that Smollett faked everything.
“Police said Smollett knew his phony assailants – brothers who worked on the set of ‘Empire‘ – and paid them to stage the violent confrontation,” the publication continues. “It was an apparent bid to brighten his spotlight in a time wrought with political tensions, prosecutors contended.”
Smollett was then convicted in 2021 with five felony counts of disorderly conduct. “In March 2022, he was sentenced to 30 months of felony probation, including 150 days in jail, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 as well as a $25,000 fine.” This did not occur, however, as he “spent only a few days behind bars before an Illinois appeals court approved an emergency motion by his attorneys to delay the sentence, granting him bail until their appeal could be resolved.”
He then made a request for an appeal earlier this year. He specifically “took issue with the appointment of a special prosecutor in the case, who charged the actor after Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx chose not to prosecute despite an initial indictment. Foxx at the time cited Smollett’s community service and the forfeiture of his $10,000 bond. Backlash over her decision was swift, triggering the designation of a special prosecutor, who ultimately went to a grand jury that again indicted the actor.”
In response, “Smollett’s legal team said prosecutors violated his due process rights, alleging they failed to enforce what they described as a binding non-prosecution agreement. They noted the decision amounted to double jeopardy and requested the actor get a new trial with a different judge.” Now “the Illinois Appellate Court handed down its ruling in the case, with the three-judge panel voting 2-1 to uphold the conviction.”
The publication added the following statement from his lawyers which was sent to TMZ:
“We wish to highlight that the decision was divided, with [Appellate Judge Freddrenna Lyle] offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett,” his lawyers said. “We are preparing to escalate this matter to the Supreme Court, armed with a substantial body of evidence.”
Lyle adds that the addition of a special prosecutor is “fundamentally unfair” and that it’s “common sense” Smollett wanted “a complete resolution of the matter” and not “a temporary one.” Stay tuned to ScreenGeek for any additional updates regarding Jussie Smollett and this legal situation as we have them.