Lawyers for Jussie Smollett have filed an appeal of his December 2021 conviction for fabricating a racist and homophobic attack on himself and then lying to Chicago police about it.
The former “Empire” actor, 40, was found guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct in December 2021.
On March 10, 2022, a Cook County judge sentenced Smollett to 150 days in jail and two years’ probation. He was also ordered to pay a $25,000 fine and restitution of more than $120,000.
Smollett walked out of jail six days later after an appeals court ruled that he should be released while his conviction was appealed. His attorneys are now seeking to keep Smollett from having to return to jail and complete his sentence.
In his appellate brief, Smollett’s legal team called for a new trial, claiming “clear and egregious” prosecutorial misconduct.
“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,” attorneys wrote in the 102-page document.
In January 2019, the openly gay actor told Chicago police that he had been attacked by two brothers, who hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him. He also said his alleged attackers put a rope around his neck.
Smollett, who is Black, was later accused of paying the men to stage the attack.
During the December 2021 trial, the brothers said Smollett paid them $3,500 for the fake hate crime. Smollett called them “liars” and told the court “there was no hoax on [his] part.”
Before handing down the sentence, Judge James Linn described the actor’s actions as “disgraceful” and a disservice to the city of Chicago, where real victims of hate crimes could feel more hesitant to report them.
Linn also said he believed that “Mr. Smollett received a fair trial.”
Smollett’s attorneys were initially due to file his appeal last August but were granted five extensions of that deadline, according to Variety.