On Friday, disgraced actor Jussie Smollett received a major blow as the Illinois Appeal Court upheld his convictions for a 2019 hate crime hoax. The “Empire” star, who made headlines when he reported a homophobic and racist attack, was convicted in 2021 of five counts of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 150 days in jail. However, he only served six days while the appeal was pending.
Smollett, who made his big screen debut in “The Mighty Ducks,” had challenged the role of the special prosecutors, the jury selection, evidence, and other aspects of the case.
But the court ultimately upheld his convictions in a 2-1 decision. The California native’s lawyers argued that he was a victim of a racist justice system and political maneuvering.
— Court TV (@CourtTV) December 1, 2023
Appellate Judge Freddrenna Lyle, the dissenting voice in the ruling, said that she would have thrown out Smollett’s conviction because it was “fundamentally unfair” to charge him when he had already completed community service as part of a previous deal with Cook County prosecutors. She believed that Smollett had been bargaining for a complete resolution, not just a temporary one.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb, however, told TMZ that the ruling was “a resounding and profound victory.” He said, “Having a dissenting voice is not uncommon. The decision is final, and Smollett can file a petition for a higher appeal to The Illinois Supreme Court.
But this is purely discretionary, and the court doesn’t have to hear the appeal. With this ruling, he has lost all legal rights to an appeal. If the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal, there will be briefs filed, and a hearing date will be set. Otherwise, the case goes back to the trial court to execute Smollett’s sentence.”
Smollett’s team, however, is not giving up and plans to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court. A representative for the actor told TMZ, “We wish to highlight that the decision was divided, with Justice Lyle offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett.
We are preparing to escalate this matter to the Supreme Court, armed with substantial evidence.” It remains to be seen if Smollett will receive another chance to fight his convictions, or if he will finally have to face the consequences of his actions.