Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett is appealing the alleged 2019 hate crime he was convicted of along with its 150-day jail sentence.
Smollett only served six days of his sentence when he was released pending his appeal. Although the actor’s legal team originally had to file his appellate brief last August, a judge granted him five extensions since.
In December 2021, Smollett was convicted of lying to police when he claimed that he was assaulted by two men who shouted racist and homophobic remarks at him and wrapped a rope around his neck.
Jussie Smollett Files To Appeal 150-Day Jail Sentence
On Thursday, court documents obtained by The Blast were filed in the First Judicial District of the State of Illinois. Attorney Heather Widell cited double jeopardy and claimed that the actor was being “punished for the same offenses by his performance of community service and forfeiture of his bond.”
In 2019, Smollett was indicted on sixteen counts, but those charges were later dropped. After significant media attention, another judge appointed a special prosecutor, who renewed the charges. Under the principle of “double jeopardy,” Smollett’s legal team is insisting that he should not have been charged twice after the first charges were dismissed.
His legal team is also arguing the $120,000 of restitution that Smollett was ordered to pay to the Chicago Police Department and his $25,000 fine. His lawyers argue that the police department is not considered a “victim” according to Illinois law and so the restitution order should be overturned.
Smollett’s legal team is also arguing that Judge James Linn rushed their cross-examination and made opinionated comments in front of the jury. They also claim that Linn’s comments during the sentencing took on a “personal retributive tone” which shocked the public.
During the sentencing, per Politico, Linn told Jussie that he allegedly staged the hate crime “because you are selfish, arrogant and narcissistic bringing attention to yourself…you took away a lot of resources from other places, other real victims of real crimes… and used up police resources for your own benefit.”
Although the court of public opinion is against the actor, in June 2022, sat down with SiriusXM’s Sway Calloway on SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning. During the wide-ranging interview, Smollett said that he understands why people are so upset about the case.
Jussie Smollett Says He Understands Why ‘People Feel Betrayed’
During the interview, Smollett said, “I don’t, there’s a part of me that, you know, when I strip my, when I strip my ego, when I strip my personal emotions about it and my personal situation, I’m, the way that it was served to everybody I absolutely understand why people felt betrayed.”
He also discussed his controversial interview with Robin Roberts. The interview was played at the trial and contradicted several elements of his testimony. “That interview wasn’t for me, that was for my character,” he said.
Smollett clarified that “I didn’t wanna do an interview. … And I don’t wanna get too deep, you know, because I love and respect Robin Roberts, you know what I’m saying? But I did not want to do that interview.”
He then said that he had not actually watched the interview until it was played for him at the trial. “I hadn’t watched the interview at all. I hadn’t watched the interview at all until we were on trial and I had to watch it because they were trying to use the interview as evidence of lies or whatever.”
“So, I had to watch it and I watched it and I was mortified,” he continued. “I mean, I was mortified. I mean, I cringed at just the… every single word that I said in that interview was the truth, but there was a certain level of performative nature that came from it because I didn’t want to be there.”
He also said that his family did their best to protect him from the media scrutiny surrounding his case. “I was shut off from the world. I was shut off from the world. I mean like my family, my family took my phone. I did not have my phone,” he said. “They took… I was not allowed to get on social media.”
“They protected me from it in a really beautiful way,” he explained. “And then I, and then probably about a year later, I, I was somewhere with my family, for my older sister Jazz’s birthday. And I just, for the first time decided to Google myself.”
Jussie called it the “worst idea ever,” adding, “Yeah…. I really saw what it was, and it was so painful. Cause I was like, ‘Ooh, he said that about me. Oh my God. Oh, she said that. What?’”