Attorneys for Jussie Smollett filed their opening arguments in their quest to overturn the ex-Empire actor’s conviction for his infamous hate crime hoax, according to the Chicago-Sun Times. His legal team filed the brief just before the court’s deadline at 9 p.m. Wednesday (March 1) after multiple delays and extensions.
On December 9, 2021, a jury found Smollett, who’s Black and gay, guilty of six felony counts of disorderly misconduct for giving false information to the police after he staged hate crime in Chicago back in January 2019.
The disgraced actor paid brothers Abel and Ola Osundairo to don ski masks, yell racist and homophobic slurs, and wrap a rope around Smollett’s neck while pouring bleach on him. Authorities say the rising television star stood to gain more attention and money at the height of his career from the stunt.
Cook County Judge James Linn sentenced Smollett to 30 months of felony probation and ordered him to pay a $25,000 fine and $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago. He was supposed to spend the first 150 days of his sentence in the county jail but was released after six days pending the appeal.
Smollett’s attorneys argue their client’s rights were violated multiple times during the high-profile trial, even claiming Judge Linn’s “uninvited commentary” influenced the jury’s decision. The brief also claimed the judge’s sentence was too excessive for the charges and reiterated the same arguments delivered during the trial.
Smollett maintained his innocence throughout the entire incident.