Chicago, IL – Attorneys for Jussie Smollett have filed paperwork seeking a new trial or a reversal of his conviction two months after a jury found him guilty of having a faked a hate crime against himself.
Smollett’s legal team has filed an 83-page document that claimed the former “Empire” star’s Constitutional rights were violated when the judge prevented his legal team from actively participating in the jury selection process, according to documents first obtained by TMZ.
The document claimed the court “made numerous trial errors leading up to the trial and during the pendency of the trial,” NBC News reported.
Smollett’s attorneys complained they hadn’t been permitted to question the potential jurors and said that prevented them from finding out about possible biases or “questionable impartiality” toward their high-profile client.
The document contained a description of one incident that occurred during jury selection when a juror told the judge she had several family members who were either current or former law enforcement, according to NBC.
Smollett’s attorney claimed in the documents filed that the count didn’t ask the potential anything more about her statements, nor did it allow defense attorneys to question her.
The defense team also said in its court filing that prosecutors presented evidence at trial that was “insufficient and inconsistent so that no reasonable trier of fact could have found Mr. Smollett guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and thus there is evidence that the jury verdict was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence,” NBC reported.
“As such, the Defendant now respectfully requests that his convictions be vacated or in the alternative, that the Court grant the Defendant a new trial,” Smollett’s attorneys wrote.
A Cook County jury found Smollett guilty of faking a hate crime against himself in 2019 on Dec. 9, 2021.
The jury found the actor guilty of lying to police in five of the six disorderly conduct charges against him, CNN reported.
The sixth count was a charge for lying to a detective weeks after Smollett initially reported the attack to police, FOX News reported.
Each Class 4 felony count carries a sentence of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The judge will have the discretion at sentencing to determine whether the five sentences will run concurrently or consecutively, CNN reported.
Many legal experts have predicted that Smollett will not spend any time behind bars and will instead get probation and community service hours.
The jury panel that heard the case was made up of six men and six women who deliberated for less than 10 hours over a two-day period before returning a verdict, CNN reported.
Smollett faced six felony disorderly conduct charges for orchestrating the attack he claimed had been perpetrated by two white supporters of President Donald Trump as the actor was walking home from a Subway restaurant on Jan. 29, 2019.
The whole saga began when Smollett told police on Jan. 29, 2019 that he had been attacked by two white supporters of President Donald Trump on his way home from a Subway restaurant.
He claimed the men called him homophobic and anti-black slurs and told him “This is MAGA country” as they beat him up and put a noose around his neck. He also said they threw a chemical on him.
Then-Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained at a press conference the day of Smollett’s arrest that that police considered the actor a victim up until Ola and Abel Osundairo returned from Nigeria to Chicago and were taken into police custody, and then the investigation “spun in a totally different direction.”
“We gave him the benefit of the doubt up until that 47th hour. But when we discovered the actual motive, quite frankly, it pissed everybody off,” he explained.
He said the brothers told police that Smollett paid them $3,500 to stage the attack, with another $500 after they returned from a planned trip to Nigeria.
“We have the check that he used to pay them,” Superintendent Johnson said.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office announced on March 8, 2019 that Smollett had been indicted by a grand jury on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct.
But then on March 26, 2019, the State’s Attorney’s Office unceremoniously announced all charges against the “Empire” actor had been dropped.
But despite that legal wrangling over dollars and cents, Smollett wasn’t in the clear.
Cook County Judge Michael Toomin in June of 2019 appointed a special counsel to investigate what actually happened after information about Smollett hiding evidence and the involvement of Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, Tina Tchen, in the case.
Toomin gave the special prosecutor a broad mandate to investigate what had happened with the case from beginning to end and what all parties involved had done.
The special prosecutor indicted Smollett on new charges on Feb. 11, 2020.