Self-Described “Gay Tupac” Jussie Smollett Loses Hate Crime Hoax Conviction Appeal, Faces Possible Return To Prison
In adding yet another loss to his ever-growing rap sheet, former Empire star Jussie Smollett is facing a possible return to prison after an Illinois court rejected his attempt to appeal the disorderly conduct conviction he received as a result of his now infamous ‘This is MAGA country!’ race hoax.
In December 2021, a jury of Smollett’s peers found the actor – who once described himself as the “gay Tupac” for surviving the now-debunked racial assault – guilty of five felony counts of disorderly conduct for his lying to police in service of perpetrating the aforementioned hoax.
As such, the actor received a jail sentence of 150 days, a subsequent probation period of 30 days, a $25,000 fine, and an order to repay the city of Chicago a total of $120,000 for the money they spent investigating his false claims.
However, after turning himself over to police custody in March 2022, Smollett’s legal team informed the court that they would be formally seeking to appeal their clients conviction on the primary ground that, in their opinions, their client had been tried twice for the same crime (his case had previously been dismissed before being brought back to trial by a special prosecutor).
In light of this announcement, Smollett asked that he be set free while the appeals process takes it course, a request to which Illinois’ First Judicial District Appellate Court ultimately agreed.
Unfortunately for Smollett, when his appeal finally received a decision on December 1st, 2023, it was not one that went in his favor, as therein, Illinois First District Appellate Court Justice Navarro upheld the former celebrity’s initial convictions.
According to Justice Navarro, though the state originally declined to prosecute Smollett, their decision in no way procluded them from “reprosecuting Smollett“.
“Given the absence of a nonprosecution agreement with the Cook County State Attorney’s Office, reprosecuting Smollett was not fundamentally unfair,” ruled the court. “Because the charges against Smollett were [formally abandoned] before
jeopardy had attached in the first criminal proceeding, the subsequent prosecution did not violate his rights against double jeopardy.”
In light of this decision, a member of Smollett’s legal team, Holly Baird, confirmed to The New York Times that the actor planned to escalate his appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court.
As such, for the time being, Smollett will remain a free man.
However, should he fail to convince the court to either pick up his case or rule in his favor, the actor will be left with no further options to appeal, at which time Smollett will be required to turn himself in and finish out his full 150-day sentence.
In a separate statement provided to the press by the aforementioned Special Prosecutor whose revival of the case against Smollett ultimately led to his conviction, attorney Dan. K. Webb asserted, “As the appellate court noted, Mr. Smollett ‘challenge(d) virtually every aspect of’ the prosecution, and the appellate court correctly rejected each and every one of those challenges.”
“Today’s decision is a validation of Winston & Strawn’s tireless work on this matter and a resounding victory for justice,” he added. “We are proud to have prevailed in a case that, we believe, can help restore the public’s confidence in the Cook County justice system.”