Jussie Smollett, the actor entangled in controversy over a staged hate crime, faced a significant legal setback as an Illinois appeals court upheld his conviction, potentially leading to his return to jail to complete a 150-day sentence.
The ruling, delivered by a three-judge panel in a 2-1 vote, dismissed Smollett’s appeal. The central argument was Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s initial decision not to prosecute, later overturned, leading to a renewed indictment.
On Friday, the two upholding justices stated that Foxx’s decision didn’t imply an agreement never to charge Smollett. The dissenting justice argued that Foxx effectively promised the case was over.
In 2019, Smollett claimed he was attacked, reporting it to 911, alleging assailants shouted, “This is MAGA country.” The story unraveled when the attackers, identified as Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, testified Smollett paid them for the “attack.” Smollett was convicted on five of six felony counts for lying to police.
Smollett’s representative mentioned, “The decision was divided, with Justice Lyle offering a detailed analysis in favor of Smollett.” They plan to escalate the matter to the Supreme Court with substantial evidence.
Special Prosecutor Dan K. Webb stated the ruling affirms the case’s extensive efforts, considering it a triumph for the justice system.
Initially convicted in 2022, Smollett received a 150-day jail sentence, 30 months felony probation, restitution to Chicago, and a fine. During the appeal, Smollett remained active, releasing music and directing a film. His legal team argued renewed prosecution violated due process and showed explicit bias.
In September, Smollett sought to overturn the 2019 conviction, arguing revived charges violated constitutional rights. His team contended public outrage couldn’t override the rule of law. As a Supreme Court appeal looms, the outcome’s uncertainty could mean jail time if the conviction stands.