Appellate Court in Illinois Hears Arguments to Overturn Jussie Smollett's Conviction

Appellate Court in Illinois Hears Arguments to Overturn Jussie Smollett’s Conviction

In Illinois, attorneys for “Empire” actor, Jussie Smollett have begun arguments on why the conviction that the actor was given should be thrown out.

According to The Associated Press, Smollet’s attorneys appeared at an Illinois appellate court on Tuesday to explain why they feel the convictions should be overturned. He had been convicted on charges of faking a racist, homophobic attack that happened to him in 2019. He was accused of having the attack staged and then lying about it to Chicago police officers. There were no charges originally filed against the actor until there was public outrage. The lawyers are saying that the charges, which were dismissed were then improperly restored.

“Public outrage against the defendant cannot overrule the rule of law,” one of his attorneys, Nenye Uche stated to the panel of three judges.

In a 76-word appeal submitted to the panel, his attorneys say that the 2021 trial violated his Fifth Amendment protections against double jeopardy. Before the trial took place, he had already performed community service and forfeited a $10,000 bond. That was part of the 2019 deal he had with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to drop the initial charges. By having the second trial, they state he was being punished twice for the same crime.

The attorney also stated that the office of prosecutor Kim Foxx had used proper discretion when they dropped the original charges four years ago.

“If Mr. Smollett’s convictions are allowed to stand, this case will set a dangerous precedent by giving prosecutors a second bite at the apple any time there is dissatisfaction with another prosecutor’s exercise of discretion,” the appeal says.

Yet, Sean Wieber, who is representing the special prosecutor, told the panel that the way Smollet’s case was handled left open the possibility of the actor being recharged without violating protections against double jeopardy.

It was argued that if a defendant hasn’t been tried and has never pleaded guilty, it’s typically not double jeopardy if the defendant is indicted a second time on the same charges.

A ruling is expected to take several weeks.

Last year, Smollet was sentenced to 30 months of felony probation, with 150 days served in Cook County Jail. He was also ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago and a $25,000 fine. If the judge rules in favor of the state, then he will have to finish the sentence, minus the six days he spent in jail before he was released pending the result of this appeal.

Appellate Court in Illinois Hears Arguments to Overturn Jussie Smollett Conviction

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