According to Deadline, actor and musician Jussie Smollett has lost his appeal to combat felony charges related to a 2019 alleged hate crime hoax. In a 2-1 opinion, an Illinois appeals court upheld the five convictions of disorderly conduct.
Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail in March of last year for the alleged hoax, along with 30 months of probation, according to Deadline. Six days later he was released from jail as his defense team planned this motion of appeal.
“Given the absence of a nonprosecution agreement with the CCSAO (the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office), reprosecuting Smollett was not fundamentally unfair,” stated the majority opinion via Deadline. “Because the charges against Smollett were nol-prossed before jeopardy had attached in the first criminal proceeding, the subsequent prosecution did not violate his right against double jeopardy.”
The opinion was issued by Justices David Navarro and Mary Ellen Coghlan, with Justice Freddrenna Lyle issuing the lone opinion in Smollett’s defense. According to Deadline, Lyle found it “fundamentally unfair” that charges were sought with special prosecutor Dan Webb after Smollett and his team had established a deal to drop the charges with Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
“Rich or poor, famous or infamous—the State is called to prosecute everyone fairly and justly and not be swayed simply by public criticism,” Justice Lyle stated on Friday, via Deadline. “Unfortunately, this case shows that outcry from some members of the community and media pressure can lead to a dismantling of such an agreement between the State and a defendant.”
At the time, Smollett starred in FOX’s hit musical drama, Empire, as middle child Jamal Lyon. Residing in Chicago where Empire was filmed, Smollett claimed he was allegedly attacked by two masked MAGA-supporting men who allegedly placed a rope around his neck. Smollett received an abundance of support until the facts of his story began to falter. He became the prime suspect in the alleged hoax after brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundouro confessed Smollett allegedly planned the attack, paying them $3500 and $100 to stage the crime.
Smollett was consequently fired from the series, which ended its run after its sixth season.
“We wish to highlight that the decision was divided, with Justice Lyle offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett,” a spokesperson for Smollett’s defense team said via Deadline. “We are preparing to escalate this matter to the Supreme Court, armed with a substantial body of evidence.”