Jussie Smollett, the former actor from ‘Empire,’ fails in his appeal against the conviction in the hoax case.



An Illinois appellate court has affirmed the conviction of former “Empire” star Jussie Smollett for orchestrating a hate crime against himself nearly five years ago.

Smollett, convicted in December 2021 on five felony charges of disorderly conduct, was later sentenced to 150 days in the Cook County jail. In a 2-1 vote, the First District Appellate Court rejected his appeal on Friday.

Justice David R. Navarro stated that Smollett’s lawyers challenged “virtually every aspect” of his case, including the appointment of a special prosecutor, jury selection, and the sentence, arguing it was excessive for a non-violent offense.

Smollett’s legal team contended, among other things, that the trial judge’s remark of “So what?” during the defense cross-examination prejudiced the jury. They also argued that COVID-19 restrictions limiting courtroom capacity hindered Smollett’s right to a public trial. The majority dismissed these arguments, affirming the trial judge’s discretion.

The justices wrote, “For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County.”

Justice Freddrenna Lyle dissented, asserting that the state shouldn’t have been allowed to re-prosecute Smollett after initially dropping the charges. Lyle argued that the state backing out of a deal with Smollett undermined justice.

Smollett’s representatives announced his intention to appeal to the state Supreme Court, emphasizing the divided decision and Justice Lyle’s detailed analysis in his favor.

Special prosecutor Dan Webb hailed the appellate opinion as “a resounding victory for justice,” expressing pride in prevailing and hoping it would restore public confidence in the Cook County justice system.

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