A retrospective look 1 year after the sentence

(Illustration: Pearl Maayan)

Jussie Smollett is appealing his hate crime fraud conviction, and remains free on bail one year after being sentenced. (Illustration: Pearl Maayan)

Jussie Smollett’s life remains at a standstill a year after he was sentenced to prison for organizing a hate crime against himself.

He Empire The actor and musician, who received a 150-day prison sentence on March 10, 2022 and was released six days later pending an appeal of the December 2021 sentence, continues to go through the legal process, now four years after Let this legal saga begin. .

Last week, Smollett’s legal team, led by Nenye E. Uche and Heather A. Widell, filed that appeal in the Illinois Court of Appeals for District 1, just hours before the final deadline after five extensions. In the March 1 filing, the defense said it is seeking a new trial with a new judge to review events related to the January 29, 2019, hate crime hoax. Smollett, who is black and gay, paid two brothers to stage a racist and homophobic attack on him on a Chicago street because he wanted attention, according to prosecutors.

Lawyers for Smollett, who maintains his innocence, argued on appeal that his conviction, for five counts of disorderly conduct for falsely reporting a crime, should be invalidated due to concerns of double jeopardy. That’s because charges of faking the assault were initially filed against Smollett in February 2019 and then dropped two months later by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office citing the reality TV star’s record of community service and the agreement to forfeit his $10,000 bond to the City of Chicago. In February 2020, special counsel, Daniel K. Webb, was called in to look into the handling of the case, due to criticism, Smollett was given special treatment and a new six-count indictment was filed. Smollett should have had immunity, his lawyers argued.

Actor Jussie Smollett appears at his sentencing hearing on Thursday, March 10, 2022, at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago.  (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Smollett is detained after his sentencing hearing on March 10, 2022. (Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Smollett’s lawyers also argued that Judge James Linn, who scolded Smollett for more than 30 minutes during sentencing, calling him “deeply arrogant,” “selfish” and “narcissistic,” was biased against the actor and “excessive” in judgment. The artist, who yelled “I’m not suicidal” when he was pulled over, fearing he would be hurt or worse as an incarcerated gay, black man accused of lying to police, was also sentenced to 30 months probation for a felony, ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the City of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.

Smollett’s attorneys, Uche and Widell, have not responded to Yahoo’s request for comment on the case, which has roiled the nation since its inception, or an update on Smollett. A representative from a crisis public relations firm that Smollett used said they no longer work with him.

What happened that night?

Smollett, who was in Chicago to shoot Fox’s Empire, claimed he was picking up food at Subway on January 29, 2019 at 2 a.m., a particularly cold night in the Windy City, when two men in ski masks yelled racist and homophobic slurs at him, physically assaulted him by grabbing his neck and pouring bleach on him on. He claimed in a now infamous Good morning america interview that the attackers, who he assumed were white, called him “f***ing Empire n*****” and said, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to then-President Trump’s infamous campaign slogan. He was on the phone with his manager at the time of the attack, and the manager called the police by Smollett to report the attack.

Political tensions were already inflamed across the country, and on Twitter, as police investigated the alleged attack. Shortly after, two brothers, Abimbola “Bola” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, who were acquaintances of the actor, were arrested. The men, aspiring actors, later testified that Smollett paid them $3,500, with $500 more promised, to stage a fake attack that Smollett wrote. Investigators obtained surveillance video showing the brothers shopping for masks and rope, as well as video of Smollett with the brothers doing what they said was evidence of the attack two days earlier.

Prosecutors claimed Smollett, who made his debut as Jamal Lyon in Empire in 2015, he had received a threatening letter at work, with a homophobic slur and a drawing of a stick figure hanging from a tree, before he allegedly orchestrated the attack and did not feel that his bosses took it seriously. The Osundario brothers testified against him during his trial. Smollett, who testified on his own behalf, appeared not to be credible to jurors, who found him guilty on five of the six charges related to falsely reporting a hate crime.

Jussie Smollett poses for a booking photo at the Cook County Jail as his sentence begins in Chicago, Illinois, USA, March 10, 2022. Photo taken March 10, 2022. County Sheriff's Office Cook/Handout via REUTERS THIS PICTURE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Jussie Smollett in his booking photo after being sentenced to 150 days in jail on March 10, 2022. (Photo: Cook County Sheriff’s Office)

Where are the main players now?

Smollett, who began her career as a child star in movies like the mighty duckswas discharged Empire and hasn’t had any acting roles since this scandal, according to IMDb. After he was released from jail on March 16 amid his appeal, a family spokesperson told CNN that he “clearly would like” to return to acting, but at the moment “everything is up in the air.” “.

Smollett – the brother of lovecraft actress Jurnee Smollett, however, released music. Immediately after her release, on April 11, she released the single “Thank You God” with lyrics addressing the case. They included: “Some people chasing fame / Some people chasing that influence / Just remember this / This is not that situation / Do you think I’m stupid enough to kill my reputation / Just to look like a victim / Like it’s something funny / You’d better watch someone else / You messed up.”

In June, his directorial debut, the film b-boy blues, which he filmed in 2020 in the midst of his legal drama, debuted on BET+. She arrived on the red carpet for the premiere and gave an interview to SiriusXM’s Sway Calloway in which she maintained his innocence. “If I had to do something, it wouldn’t be to look like a victim,” he said. “It would seem, in any case, someone strong.” He added that he didn’t need “some kind of promotion” in his career, “he was up and up.”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 26: Jussie Smollett attends the 2022 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 26, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Prince Williams/Getty Images)

Jussie Smollett attended the 2022 BET Awards on June 26, 2022, three months after he was released from jail. (Photo: Prince Williams/Getty Images)

Smollett made several other red carpet appearances in the past year, including at the BET Awards, as she prepares to drop a new album (another single, “Some Things,” came out in July) and at the 2022 Atlanta Black Pride Weekend. Film Festival, promoting b-boy blues.

As for the Osundairo brothers, they are giving their first interview about their involvement in the hoax in the five-part Fox Nations docuseries. Jussie Smollett: Anatomy of a Hoaxwhich airs on March 13. In it, they discuss how Bola, an extra on the set of Empire – befriended Smollett. They went to gay clubs and baths together, watched TV at Smollett’s, and Bolo also bought things for the star, including marijuana and other “paraphernalia” he declined to specify.

Ball spoke about Smollett asking him to pretend to hit him, in plans that he said Smollett outlined up to insults. She agreed because she felt “indebted” to Smollett for getting her screen time in Empire. The brothers would be paid; they received a check for one part. Bola claimed that Smollett planned to leak the attack himself on social media to gain sympathy.

In their new interview, they clarify the claims Smollett has made in his testimony, including the denial that they tried to extort $1 million from him and that Bola had a sexual relationship with Smollett. In the final episode, the brothers revisit the alleged crime scene and recreate what they say happened that night. (The couple have a pending libel suit against one of Smollett’s lawyers.)

Others involved in the case, including Eddie T. Johnson, a former Chicago Police Department superintendent, are also reviewing the docuseries saga.

Whats Next?

The Illinois Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear Smollett’s case this spring, with a ruling due later this year.

Smollett, who remains out of jail for now, has another legal drama pending. He is still being sued by the City of Chicago to recover costs incurred in investigating the attack. More than two dozen officers and detectives participated in the week-long investigation and $130,106.15 was paid in overtime.

As for whether he’ll ever be able to rehabilitate his image, Shawn Zanotti, who runs Exact Publicity in Los Angeles and Chicago, tells Yahoo Entertainment that there’s always a chance for a celebrity to “recover” and sometimes “recovery.” it’s stronger”. than the original step in his career”.

The publicist, who represents Wendy Williams, says it’s all about finding “the right project that she can get along with” and then “riding that wave.” But first, Zanotti says that Smollett has to tell his side of the story. “A lot of times when these kinds of things happen to celebrities, they think the right way is to move on,” but putting their case in the court of public opinion, especially when people are as opinionated about it, as they are. in this case, it is key.

Whatever happens, Zanotti, who has helped Williams through her ups and downs in recent years, adds: “I think it’s important to mention that it can be difficult as a celebrity. This is my opinion as a publicist. There’s so many eyes on you, the weight of the world on your shoulders sometimes when something happens “scrutiny” comes from many directions. So “it’s important for people to remember that a celebrity is human, just like you” and it doesn’t hurt to have some of ” compassion” as they navigate difficult situations in the public eye.

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