Illinois Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal from former 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, March 27, 2024
Smollett asks IL Supreme Court to review conviction being upheld
What is Jussie Smollett doing now? The former "Empire" actor has asked the Illinois Supreme Court to review his conviction being upheld.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from actor Jussie Smollett after a ruling upheld his Cook County conviction for lying about an alleged hate crime, court records show.

No date for the hearing has been determined.

In December, an Illinois appeals court upheld Smollett's disorderly conduct conviction, and Smollett turned to the state's highest court soon after.

The appeals court voted 2-1 in favor of upholding the conviction.

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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, 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. A special prosecutor was then appointed in 2020.

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Smollett's lawyers claimed 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 disagreed 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.

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

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, Abimbola and Olabinjo.

ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said the ruling was a strong win for the special prosecutor, considering all the arguments raised by the defense.

The ruling meant Smollett must finish his entire 150 day jail sentence for the crime. He served six days before being released last year.

"The Illinois Supreme Court process is really the end of the road for him and it's not likely to give him much success," Soffer said last month. "It's pretty hard to get a hearing before the Supreme Court and even harder to win ultimately when you're there."

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.