Nearly a year after being found guilty of lying to police regarding his now infamous hate crime hoax, disgraced actor Jussie Smollett has moved to appeal his conviction, alleging in a new filing that his losing verdict was the result of various due process violations.
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After making national headlines with his false claim that he was supposedly physically assaulted for being black and gay after being recognized from his role on Empire by two white men wearing ‘Make America Great Again’ hats while making a late-night run to Subway, a subsequent investigation by the Chicago Police found that Smollett had lied about the entire event.
Smollett’s dishonesty would eventually see him brought before a court, whereupon a jury found him guilty on five of six counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police, the dropped charge relating to his assertion to one specific detective that he had been the victim of an aggravated battery (as it was found he was attacked, just as a result of his own planning rather than random hatred).
In turn, the actor would receive a sentence of 150 days in jail, 30 days of probation, a fine of $25,000, and an order to repay the city of Chicago a total of $120,000 for the money they spent investigating his false claims.
However, after serving just seven days of his sentence in March 2022, Smollett was released from custody after his legal team informed the court that they would be appealing his conviction and successfully asked he be released pending the conclusion of the process.
Formally filed with the First Judicial District of the Appelate Court of Illinois on March 1st, Smollett’s appeal  claims that the actor was subjected to numerous infringements on his right to due process throughout the course of the trial.
These accused infringements include the court subjecting the actor to double jeopardy after failing “to perform its part of a non–prosecution agreement“, “depriving the Defendant of a jury of his peers by allowing the prosecution to strike all but one African American juror and a gay juror,” and that the judge in the case ” improperly denied the defense motion for substitution of judge for cause because of his explicit bias towards Mr. Smollett.”
Smollet’s claim of double jeopardy stems from the fact that his initial criminal charges, first filed against him in 2019, were agreed to be dropped by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in exchange for his forfeiting his initial bond and performing community service.
However, after it was determined by a special prosecutor that the State office may have improperly allowed for the full absolution of Smollett’s crimes – State’s Attorney Kim Foxx was a known public supporter of the actor’s initial claims – the actor was charged in the crime once more.
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In regards to their claim that Judge Michael Toomin was specifically biased against the actor, Smollet’s legal team argued that “From the very start of the circuit court’s order granting the appointment of a special prosecutor, Judge Toomin explicitly, unequivocally, and improperly set forth an opinion that Mr. Smollett was, in fact, guilty of charge.”
“Both the Illinois and United States Constitution’s guarantee the presumption of innocence to an accused in a criminal case,” they wrote. “In the case at bar, Judge Toomin denied Mr. Smollett that constitutional guarantee.”
Further, Smollett’s attorneys have also claimed that Judge Toomin made “inappropriate comments” during the trial which “implicated the defendant’s due process right to a fair trial”
“For instance,” offered the actor’s counsel as one example, “the defense attempted to cross-examine Detective Theis on implicit homophobic statements made by a fellow detective, in his presence, during an interrogation. Specifically, the offending detective had described Mr. Smollett as having a pretty face. The trial court was dismissive of this line of questioning when it declared, in front of the jury, and after an objection from the OSP, “he can answer did he say that. So what? Did he say it?”
Per the individual conclusions of each of Smollett’s arguments, in raising these accusations, the actor is ultimately requesting “that this Court reverse the trial Court and grant him a new trial with a new trial judge assignment if reversed.”
As of writing, the Illinois Appellate Court has yet to publicly respond to Smollett’s filing.
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