An Illinois appellate court has upheld Jussie Smollett’s conviction for staging a hate crime.
According to Variety, the First District Appellate Court rejected his appeal in a 2-1 vote conducted on Friday.
A jury convicted Smollet in December 2021. An Illinois judge sentenced him to 150 days in the Cook County jail for five felony charges of disorderly conduct.
Smollett took his acting from the small screen to the streets of Chicago five years ago in a staged assault. The 41-year-old orchestrated the hoax with two brothers, Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo.
The disgraced actor claimed strangers beat him while spewing racist and homophobic remarks. He reported they poured bleach on him and tied a noose around his neck. Smollett also told police the assailants yelled he was in “MAGA country.”
The hoax went viral in 2019 after investigators discovered the Empire actor paid the men to execute the staged “assault.” The series subsequently dropped the fibbing thespian from the final season.
Despite the brothers’ confession and the jury’s guilty verdict, Jussie maintained his innocence. Upon sentencing, he yelled in the courtroom, “I am not suicidal!” with a raised fist. Smollett’s defense team appealed the conviction, and he secured a release after only serving six days.
Jussie Smollet Appeals His Conviction For Staging A Hate Crime
During the appeal, Smollett’s attorneys challenged “virtually every aspect” of the hoax case. Justice David R. Navarro called their objections to jury selection, the sentence and the appointment of a special prosecutor “excessive.” The falsifier’s attorney also stated COVID-19 capacity limits in the courtroom hindered his right to a public trial.
Navarro’s arguments were rejected on the grounds that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion and swiftly corrected any mistakes.
The justices wrote, “For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County.”
Justice Freddrenna Lyle contested as she argued that Smollett should not have been re-prosecuted after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office initially dropped all charges against the former child star.
The decision resulted in a firestorm of vitriol. The judge appointed Dan Webb to reexamine the case and bring forth charges if he saw fit. The court official contended the state’s attorney did not accurately recuse herself. Lyle asserted reversing the decision caused the state to back out on a deal that was made with Jussie’s defense team, thus they should have upheld the initial outcome.
The justice wrote, “Public policy considerations and reverence for our justice system disfavor reneging on such agreements and should never be outweighed by a cacophony of criticism as to the terms of the agreement.”
The Mighty Ducks actor’s reps stated he would appeal to the state Supreme Court.
The officials released a statement: “We wish to highlight that the decision was divided, with Justice Lyle offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett. We are preparing to escalate this matter to the Illinois Supreme Court, armed with a substantial body of evidence.”
The special prosecutor on the case, Dan Webb, also released a statement citing the appellate decision as a “resounding victory for justice.”
“We are proud to have prevailed in a case that, we believe, can help restore the public’s confidence in the Cook County justice system,” Webb said. “We hope this decision will reassure the community that our legal system is fair, just, and impartial.”
Jussie’s character on Empire, Jamal Lyon, clearly had a fitting last name, considering he is going to ride this untruth until the transmission gives out.
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