Jussie Smollett appeal: Actor files opening arguments as he appeals conviction for hate crime hoax

What is Jussie Smollett doing now? Actor announced his directorial debut with the film 'B-Boy Blues'

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, March 2, 2023
Jussie Smollett files opening arguments as he appeals conviction
Where is Jussie Smollett now? The former "Empire" actor has filed opening arguments, as he appeals his conviction for a hate crime hoax.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Attorneys for Jussie Smollett filed an appeal challenging the actor's disorderly conduct conviction.

Smollett's defense argues the conviction should be overturned because his right to due process was violated.

The brief was filed just before 9 p.m. Wednesday, hours before the court's final deadline. The three-judge appellate panel had granted a fifth extension to Smollett's attorneys in January to file their arguments, but warned it would be the last.

Prosecutors said at the time they wouldn't pursue the 16 counts against Smollett in consideration of his community service and turning over his $10,000 bond to the city of Chicago.

RELATED: Jussie Smollett back to work, making directorial debut after convicted for faking Chicago hate crime

The stunning decision led a Cook County judge to appoint Special Prosecutor Dan Webb to review the office's decision. Smollett was then indicted on new charges, which Smollett's attorneys say violated his protection against double jeopardy.

Anticipating that Smollett's attorneys would be making those claims again, the Office of the Special Prosecutor has repeatedly said in previous filings that those arguments are beyond the scope of Smollett's appeal.

The brief also argues that Smollett's rights were violated many times during his trial, including when prosecutors were allowed to reject a gay person and all but one African American from the jury.

The filing also cites alleged bias by the judge, contending his "uninvited commentary" unduly influenced the jury's decision in the case.

The sentence Linn handed down was also excessive for the charges, especially in light of the mitigation presented by the defense, the attorneys claim

In 2021, Smollett was found guilty of filing a false report to Chicago police, claiming he was the victim of a racially-motivated attack.

Smollett has continued to insist his innocence, including immediately after he was sentenced.

In an outburst during the hearing, the actor repeatedly stated, "I did not do this.' Saying he was not suicidal, he warned, "If anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself."

Prosecutors have said he orchestrated the hoax for publicity at the height of his career while acting on the Fox drama "Empire."

Smollett was fined and sentenced nearly a year ago to probation, with the first 150 days to be served at the Cook County Jail. But he only spent six days behind bars before being released pending the appeal.

Since his release, Smollett has announced his directorial debut with the film "B-Boy Blues," but has had no new acting credits.

The Sun-Times Media report contributed to this post.