Lawyers for Jussie Smollett have filed to appeal the former Empire actor’s conviction for lying to police, the latest chapter in the legal battle relating to Smollett’s alleged role in a hate crime hoax.
Smollett was sentenced to 150 days and 30 months in prison in March 2022 after being found guilty of five counts of felony disorderly conduct — which is how Illinois law classifies false police reports — in connection to the January 2019 hoax. However, Smollett only served less than a week behind bars before he was released pending his appeal of the conviction.
On Wednesday, Smollett’s legal team filed a 102-page brief appealing the conviction — which would prevent him from returning to prison to serve the remainder of his 150-day sentence — and asked for a new trial entirely.
The brief, obtained by Rolling Stone, cites numerous errors made by the trial judge and argues that the sentence was both “excessive” and delivered with a “personal retributive tone.” Smollett’s lawyers also argued against $145,000 in total restitution that the actor was ordered to pay — $120,000 of which to the Chicago Police to cover its overtime costs working on the alleged assault — by arguing that the police were not “victims” and thus aren’t eligible for compensation.
Smollett’s bizarre saga started more than four years ago when he first told police that two men disguised in balaclava-style masks allegedly assaulted him on a snowy street outside his Chicago apartment.
Smollett told Chicago Police he was returning from a Subway restaurant when his alleged attackers dropped a noose around his neck, poured an unknown liquid on his body, pelted him with racist and homophobic slurs, and yelled, “This is MAGA country!”
In the weeks following his report, Smollett himself became a suspect in the incident, with authorities accusing him of staging the attack with help from Nigeria-born brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who Smollett later sued for defamation.
The brothers testified at trial that Smollett paid them to stage the attack. Smollett maintained his innocence through defiant testimony, but a jury convicted him on all but one count on Dec. 9, 2021.
Smollett’s appeal was filed just weeks before a new five-part docuseries about the alleged hate crime — featuring new interviews with the Osundairo brothers and titled Anatomy of a Hoax — is set to premiere on Fox Nation.