Jussie Smollett lodges appeal seeking new trial
Jussie Smollett wants a new trial over allegations he faked a hate crime on himself.
The 'Empire' actor was sentenced to 150 days jail and 30 months of felony probation in March 2022, three months after he was found guilty on five of six counts of disorderly conduct for allegedly staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself in 2019 but spent less than a week behind bars after the Illinois Appellate Court granted a motion from his lawyers for a stay of the sentence.
And his team have now officially lodged an appeal, arguing the 40-year-old star had been subjected to "clear and egregious" instances of "prosecutorial misconduct".
Documents obtained by The Hollywood Reporter said: "Mr. Smollett’s constitutional rights to due process and to a fair trial were denied by prosecutorial misconduct including allegations that a defense witness was pressured to change his statement … and shifting the burden during closing arguments."
The 102-page submission also cited double-jeopardy protection tied to the actor being “punished for the same offenses by his performance of community service and forfeiture of his bond.”
His attorney wrote: “The renewed prosecution of Mr. Smollett violated his due process rights because (1) Mr. Smollett fully performed his part of a non-prosecution agreement with the state by performing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bail bond; and (2) the state benefited from taking and keeping Mr. Smollett’s bail bond without performing its end of the bargain.
"Thus, the violation of due process was prejudicial and requires reversal of Mr. Smollett’s convictions and a dismissal of the charges against him.”
The actor initially reported an alleged attack outside his apartment by two men in ski masks, during which he claimed that he was subjected to racist and homophobic abuse, had an "unknown chemical substance" dumped on him and had a noose put around his neck.
But brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo claimed he orchestrated the attack and paid them $3,500 - but Jussie instead insisted that the payment was for a meal and workout plan while he was travelling.
He told his defence lawyer that he "never" gave Abimbola payment for the scheme.
The actor claimed one of the attackers shouted that it was "Maga country", which he believed to be a reference to then-United States President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan.
However, the brothers told the court that Jussie told them to shout the phrase during the alleged attack.