The tale of Jussie Smollett is growing ever closer to its conclusion as the disgraced actor has reached his final chance of avoiding accountability for the hate crime hoax he perpetrated five years ago. He has now been forced to throw himself at the mercy of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Smollett was once known for his performance on the television show “Empire.” But now he is known for humiliating himself by trying to convince the nation that he was brutally attacked by MAGA racists in Chicago for being gay and black. He was later arrested and convicted for orchestrating the whole matter, which involved two Nigerian actors who pretended to be violent, Trump-supporting racists. Now, he is hoping that the state Supreme Court will grant him some mercy.
The former “Empire” actor who was convicted of falsely reporting a hate crime to Chicago police in January of 2019 is petitioning the Illinois Supreme Court to hear his case after a lower appellate court in December upheld his sentence and conviction.
The move marks the next step as Smollett works to exhaust all his appeal options after a jury in 2021 convicted him on five of six counts of disorderly conduct. He was sentenced to 150 days in jail, 30 months of probation and $130,160 in restitution.
Smollett’s attorneys filed the petition to the high court on Monday, arguing that the questions raised by the case have the “potential for wide-reaching implications” across Illinois. The court has the discretion to decide whether to take the case, or leave the appellate court’s decision in effect.
The appeals court in a 2-1 decision largely rejected a lengthy laundry list of alleged violations in the case handled by special prosecutor Dan Webb after the Cook County state’s attorney’s office controversially dropped all charges. Smollett had argued that the original dismissal constituted a resolution in the case, given that he forfeited the $10,000 he posted for bail. Therefore, he has argued, the subsequent trial and conviction violated his double jeopardy rights.
Unfortunately, Smollett’s chances of avoiding accountability appear to be quite dim. It does not seem likely that the court will let him off the hook for perpetuating the most well-known hate crime hoax in history.
It is unknown when the state Supreme Court will take up his case. But if they rule against him, he must serve 150 days in jail.
The implications of Smollett’s case extend far beyond the embattled actor. It highlights the impact of these hoaxes on actual victims of hate crimes, and serves to further exacerbate racial tensions. It prompts folks who would otherwise speak out against a bigotry-motivated crime to doubt whether the claims are even real in the first place.
Unfortunately, there are still too many people who are concerned only with promoting themselves and their agenda. It is not clear what actually motivated Smollett to orchestrate this farce. It could have been political, a way to push the narrative that Trump supporters are generally racist. There is also the possibility that Smollett did it to get more attention on his career. It could have been both.
But one thing is clear: When Smollett decided to go through with this plot, he either did not consider the impact it would have on actual victims of hate crimes, or he just did not care.