Posted on September 13, 2023

Illinois Appeals Court Hears Arguments on Jussie Smollett Request to Toss Convictions

Michael Tarm, Associated Press, September 12, 2023

Jussie Smollett’s lawyers told an Illinois appellate court Tuesday it should toss the former “Empire” actor’s convictions for staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself in 2019 and then lying about it to Chicago police, arguing that anger over the case led to properly dismissed charges being improperly restored.


“Public outrage against the defendant cannot overrule the rule of law,” one of his lawyers, Nenye Uche, told the panel — referring to how public perception of Smollett turned after police said he created a crime and wasn’t a victim of one.

Uche added that many of the issues surrounding the appeal and Smollett’s prosecution boil down to the question: “Is it fair?”


Among a long list of arguments in Smollett’s 76-page written appeal is that his 2021 trial violated his Fifth Amendment protections against double jeopardy — being punished for the same crime twice. It says he already performed community service and forfeited a $10,000 bond as part of a 2019 deal with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to drop the initial charges.

That issue was a focus of Tuesday’s oral arguments.

Smollett, who is Black and gay, was the target of a racist justice system and people playing politics, Uche told reporters last year. Uche criticized special prosecutor Dan Webb’s decision to press for new charges in 2020. He also called the trial judge’s sentence excessive for a low-level felony.

In the appeal, Smollett’s legal team says chief prosecutor Kim Foxx’s office used proper discretion to drop the original charges four years ago.

“If Mr. Smollett’s convictions are allowed to stand, this case will set a dangerous precedent by giving prosecutors a second bite at the apple any time there is dissatisfaction with another prosecutor’s exercise of discretion,” the appeal says.