February 25, 2024

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Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett loses appeal in court

Former Empire actor Jussie Smollett loses appeal in court

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An appeals court upheld the disorderly conduct convictions Friday of actor Jussie Smollett, who was accused of making a racist and homophobic attack against himself in 2019 and lying about it to Chicago police.

Smollett, who appeared on the TV show “Empire,” challenged the role of the special prosecutor, jury selection, evidence and many other aspects of the case. But all of that was rejected in a 2-1 opinion by the Illinois Court of Appeals.

Smollett had told police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. The search for the attackers quickly turned into an investigation into Smollett himself, leading to his arrest on charges of masterminding the whole thing.

Authorities said he paid two men he knew from working on the movie Empire, which was filmed in Chicago. Prosecutors said Smollett told the men what to shout, shouting that he was in “MAGA Country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan.

“I’ve been up and up”: Jussie Smollett disputes claims that he committed a hate crime for fame

A jury convicted Smollett in 2021 of five felony counts of disorderly conduct, a charge that can be brought in Illinois when someone lies to police.

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He will now have to finish the 150 days in jail that was part of his sentence. Smollett spent only six days in jail while his appeal was pending.

Lawyers for Smollett, who is black and gay, have publicly claimed that he was the target of a racist justice system and political people.

“We are preparing to take this matter to the Supreme Court,” Smollett spokeswoman Holly Byrd said, referring to Illinois’ highest court. She also noted that the opinion at the appeals court was not unanimous.

Appeal Judge Frederina Lyle had overturned the convictions. She said it was “fundamentally unfair” to appoint a special prosecutor and charge Smollett when he had already performed community service as part of a 2019 deal with Cook County prosecutors to close the case.

“It made sense that Smollett was bargaining for a complete resolution of the matter, not just a temporary solution,” Lyle said.

more: Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of five counts of organizing a racist anti-gay attack in Chicago and lying to police

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb was appointed to look into why the case was dropped. A grand jury subsequently returned charges against Smollett in 2020, and Webb concluded there were “significant abuses of discretion” in the state’s attorney’s office during the previous round.

Appellate Judges David Navarro and Mary Ellen Coghlan said in the majority opinion that Smollett was not immune from a new round of charges.

“The record contains no evidence that (the prosecution) agreed not to try Smollett again in exchange for waiving his bail and performing community service,” they said.

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