Jussie Smollet Makes Big Legal Move Concerning His Hate Crime Hoax Conviction

Jussie Smollett maintains his innocence after being found guilty of falsely reporting a hate crime. Deadline reports that the Empire alum has filed an appeal of his 2021 conviction for faking a hate-crime attack in Chicago in early January 2019. "The renewed prosecution of Mr. Smollett violated his due process rights," his attorney Heather Widell wrote in the court document filed on March 2, adding, "because (1) Mr. Smollett fully performed his part of a non-prosecution agreement with the state by performing community service and forfeiting his $10,000 bail bond; and (2) the state benefited from taking and keeping Mr. Smollett's bail bond without performing its end of the bargain. Thus, the violation of due process was prejudicial and requires reversal of Mr. Smollett's convictions and a dismissal of the charges against him."

The alleged hate attack attracted widespread media attention. At the time, Smollett was an in-demand actor and activist on the hit FOX musical drama. He claimed that he'd been beaten by two men who were also supporters of then-Presiden Donald Trump, called homophobic and racial slurs, had a bleach-like substance poured on him, and a noose hung around his neck in the dead of Chicago winter. Initially, there was a public outcry. Smollett appeared on Good Morning America with Robin Roberts interviewing him over the ordeal. But as the investigation unfolded, questions lingered. 

Two brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, would later come forward and claim that Smollett paid them to stage the attack. They also claimed they'd rehearse how the attack would go. Smollett was later arrested, and released on bail. He was found guilty in 2021 and spent a short time in jail. But he has always maintained his innocence.

During the trial, the Osundairo brothers testified they were friends with Smollett, with one working as his physical trainer, and the other being his lover at times. It was also revealed that Smollett went to a bathhouse with one of the brothers, and did party drugs.

As for the motive of the staged attack, Smollett was reportedly upset over alleged hate mail he'd received on set. He also reportedly wanted a raise.