Illinois Supreme Court to hear actor Jussie Smollett appeal of conviction for staging racist attack

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois Supreme Court will hear an appeal of actor Jussie Smollett’s disorderly conduct conviction for staging a racist and homophobic attack against himself in 2019, then lying to Chicago police about it.

The court on Wednesday accepted the appeal from Smollett, formerly a cast member of the television drama “Empire.” It will review a December state appellate court ruling that upheld his 2021 conviction by a Cook County jury.

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The case kicked up an international uproar and produced an intensive manhunt by Chicago police detectives.

There is no date set for the high court to hear arguments in the matter.

A special prosecutor refiled charges against Smollett after Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dropped the case and Smollett forfeited his $10,000 bond and conducted community service, which Smollett argues ended the case.

In a 2-1 decision, the state’s First District Appellate Court dismissed those claims, declaring that no one promised Smollett he wouldn’t face a fresh prosecution after accepting the original deal. Justice Freddrenna Lyle dissented, calling the refiled charges “fundamentally unfair.”

His attorneys have argued that Smollett, who is Black and gay, has been victimized by a racist and politicized justice system.

Smollett was found guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct for setting up the attack in which he claimed two men assaulted him on a Chicago street. He claimed they spouted slurs and an oath about being in “MAGA country” — an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump’s rallying credo — before tossing a noose around his neck.

Testimony at his trial indicated Smollett paid $3,500 to two men whom he knew from “Empire,” which was filmed in Chicago, to carry out the attack. But Smollett took the stand and told the jury, “There was no hoax.”

He was sentenced to 150 days in jail — six of which he served before he was freed pending appeal — 30 months of probation and ordered to pay $130,160 in restitution.

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Check out the Associated Press’ complete coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

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