Jussie Smollett, the actor embroiled in controversy following a staged hate crime, has suffered a significant legal defeat. An Illinois appeals court upheld his conviction, a decision that could see him returning to jail to complete his 150-day sentence.
The ruling, delivered by a three-judge panel in a 2-1 vote, rejected Smollett’s appeal. The key argument in Smollett’s appeal was the initial decision by Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx not to prosecute the case. However, this decision was later overturned, leading to a renewed indictment.
On Friday, the two justices who upheld the conviction stated that the decision not to move forward with the case did not equate to an agreement never to charge him. The dissenting justice believed that Foxx’s decision effectively promised Smollett that the case was over.
In 2019, Smollett called 911 and claimed that he was attacked by two men who shouted, “This is MAGA country.” The actor claimed that the men dumped bleach on him before tying a “noose” around his neck, which he was still wearing when he spoke to investigators.
Smollett’s story fell apart when the attackers were identified as Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, two brothers from Nigeria. The brothers testified at Smollett’s trial that the actor paid them for the “attack.” Smollett was ultimately convicted on five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police.
“We wish to highlight that the decision was divided, with Justice Lyle offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett,” his rep told Fox News Digital.”We are preparing to escalate this matter to the Supreme Court, armed with a substantial body of evidence.”
Special Prosecutor Dan K. Webb responded by stating that the appellate court’s ruling affirms the extensive efforts put into the case and represents a triumph for the justice system.
Smollett, known for his role in “Empire,” was initially convicted in 2022. He reported being the victim of the racist and homophobic attack in January 2019, a claim that was later found to be fabricated. The actor was sentenced to 150 days in jail, 30 months felony probation, restitution to the city of Chicago, and a fine.
During his appeal, Smollett remained active, releasing new music and directing a film. His legal team argued that the renewed prosecution violated his due process rights and that the circuit court judge showed explicit bias toward him.
In September, Smollett appeared in court seeking to overturn the 2019 conviction. His legal team contended that the resurgence of public interest and displeasure in the case prompted the revival of charges that had been earlier dismissed by the Cook County District Attorney, Kim Foxx.
The actor’s legal team has argued that the reintroduction of charges violates the Fifth Amendment and double jeopardy precedents, which prevent prosecutors from bringing the same charges against a defendant twice. “Public outrage against the defendant cannot overrule the rule of law,” said Nenye Uche, one of Smollett’s lawyers.
As Smollett’s team prepares for a Supreme Court appeal, the outcome remains uncertain. If the conviction is upheld, Smollett will be required to serve the remainder of his jail sentence.