Jussie Smollett case: Oral arguments begin for actor's appeal of hate crime hoax conviction

ByEvelyn Holmes and Stephanie Wade WLS logo
Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Oral arguments begin in Jussie Smollett appeal
Jussie Smollett's appeal of his conviction in a hate crime hoax returned to court Tuesday with oral arguments beginning.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois Appeals Court is hearing oral arguments by attorneys for Jussie Smollett that his conviction should be thrown out.

Smollett entered the appeals court on Tuesday, wearing a hat, sunglasses, and scarf wrapped around his face, so to conceal his identity.

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Smollett left out a back alleyway in different clothes to avoid the cameras as his long, drawn-out legal saga continued.

In 2021, the former "Empire" TV star was convicted of faking a racist and homophobic attack in 2019, and then, lying to police about it. His attorneys appealed that conviction on Tuesday, arguing that he should not have been punished for the same crime twice.

Back in 2019, he and Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx had reached an agreement to drop the charges against him in exchange for $10,000 bond and community service. The special prosecutor was then appointed in 2020.

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Smollett's lawyers claim his conviction violated his fifth amendment rights against double jeopardy, which is a legal protection against a person being punished for the same crime twice.

The special prosecutor disagrees with their premise, arguing that Smollett did get due process and was never prosecuted in the 2019 case, adding that the agreement for his release included an understanding that he could be re-charged for the original crime.

Smollett's attorneys added that the special prosecutor, who they say never should've been appointed, also did not turn over important evidence to the defense team from an hour's long discussion with the Osundairo brothers.

The three-judge panel went into recess on Tuesday afternoon. If Smollet's appeal fails, he would have to finish out his 150-day jail sentence.

He has spent six days in jail so far, pending this appeal.

The judges' ruling could take weeks.

Bodycam video shows Jussie Smollett being taken into custody at Cook County Jail