Jussie Smollett trial: Actor was found guilty of falsely reporting a hate crime. Here’s what comes next

His defense team said it will appeal the verdict.

Jurors deliberated over the course of two days after a trial in which Smollett and his accomplices gave strikingly different testimony about what happened.
Smollett maintained his innocence on the stand and denied the accounts of Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, two acquaintances he knew from the television show. Prosecutors pointed to the brothers’ testimony and evidence that Smollett, who is black and gay, paid them to stage a bogus hate crime attack in order to gain comprehensive media coverage.
Smollett told police after the alleged attack near downtown Chicago that he was subjected to racist and homophobic insults by two unknown men, who also sprayed bleach on him and put a noose around his neck. Authorities investigated the allegations and determined that the actor orchestrated the scheme, and a grand jury indicted Smollett in February 2020.

While convicted of five of the six charges, Smollett was acquitted of one felony disorderly conduct charge.

The next phases of the case will address Smollett’s possible punishment, as well as his opportunity to appeal.

The sentence awaits

A disorderly conduct charge for a false crime report is a Class 4 felony and is punishable by up to 3 years in prison and a $ 25,000 fine. Cook County Judge James Linn will have the discretion to impose a simultaneous or consecutive sentence for each of the five counts at a later date.

CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson said the judge could give Smollett parole, but Smollett “exposed himself to jail” when he testified in court.

“When you testify in a case, the judge now has an idea of ​​what you said,” Jackson said. “What Jussie Smollett said was flatly rejected by that jury. The jury didn’t buy what you were selling. That doesn’t escape a judge. You walked into the courtroom and manufactured.”

Jackson told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday that he believes Smollett will face a prison sentence because he doubled down on lying during testimony, required police to use resources during their investigation, and because deception itself could undermine victims. of real hate crimes.

“There are people who were legitimately victims of hate crimes, and how do you minimize them with something that is a sham? That is worrisome and you have to punish that,” said Jackson.

“When you’re actually on trial for telling a lie and then you aggravate it by lying, it makes a judge, who sits at your trial when you’re sentenced, really worried,” he said of Smollett making the decision. stop.

Defense says they will appeal

Nenye Uche, Smollett’s attorney, said she “respectfully disagrees” with the jury’s verdict and that the case will be won on appeal.

“He (Smollett) is 100% sure this will be reversed on appeal,” Uche said. “At the end of the day, we believe that justice will prevail. We do not believe it was done today, but we are very confident that he will be acquitted and found not guilty.”

Uche said Smollett was disappointed but hoped for a “fair result” in appeals court.

The lawsuit against Smollett is ongoing

The city of Chicago said in a statement Thursday that it “intends to continue with its lawsuit” to hold Smollett accountable.

The city filed the lawsuit in April 2019 after the actor failed to pay a request for $ 130,106.15 for the police investigation of his report of a hate crime attack, court documents show. Smollett filed a counterclaim in November 2020.

The Chicago Law Department noted in the lawsuit that more than two dozen police officers and detectives spent weeks working on the Smollett case in 2019, resulting in 1,836 overtime hours.

Smollett was given seven days to reimburse the city, but the actor’s attorneys at the time said the lawsuit was aimed at “irreparably harassing and injuring Mr. Smollett.”

The city will continue to “demand that he (Smollett) compensate the City for costs incurred by the Chicago Police Department that took his false claims of damages seriously,” the statement said.

CNN’s Leinz Vales, Alexandra Meeks, Bill Kirkos, Ashley Killough, and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.


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