Attorneys for former Empire actor Jussie Smollett are appealing the 150-day jail sentence he received after being found guilty in 2021 of staging a hate crime in January 2019.
Per CNN, in a court document filed on Wednesday in the Illinois First Judicial District appellate court, attorneys for Smollett appealed the conviction and are requesting a new trial.
“In the present case, instances of prosecutorial misconduct were clear and egregious,” his legal team argued in the document. “Mr. Smollett’s constitutional rights to due process and to a fair trial were denied by prosecutorial misconduct including allegations that a defense witness was pressured to change his statement…and shifting the burden during closing arguments."
Smollett’s team has also suggested he was subjected to double jeopardy, and said the sentence against him was too harsh. Back in January 2019, Smollett alleged that two men attacked him verbally and physically during an assault in Chicago. He said they put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him. Police investigated the alleged hate crime, but evidence and interviews determined Smollett paid two men $3,500 to stage the crime. He was found guilty in December 2021, and was sentenced to 30 months of felony probation and 150 days in jail in March 2022. He was also ordered to pay restitution of over $120,000, and a $25,000 fine for filing a false police report.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Fox Nation is set to release the five-part docuseries Jussie Smollett: Anatomy of a Hoax on March 13. “Anatomy of a Hoax takes a deep dive into a scam that reverberated through the worlds of entertainment, pop culture and politics," said Fox Nation's executive VP John Finley. "We’re excited for viewers to hear the real stories behind this scandal from the Osundairo brothers for the very first time.”
Smollett has maintained his innocence following the verdict. “If I had done this, I’d be a piece of shit. … That’s not really questionable,” he said in an interview on Sway in the Morning last year. “If I had done something like this, it would mean that I stuck my fist in the pain of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years. We’re not even talking about in Africa because that’s an even deeper, larger conversation. It would mean that I stuck my fist in the fears of the LGBTQ community all over the world. I’m not that motherfucker.”