Updated as of 3/11/2022 at 9:30 a.m. ET: Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot has put out an official statement following Smollett’s sentencing on Thursday.
Posted online by Ryan Johnson, the deputy director of communications at the mayor’s office, the statement reads:
“The criminal conviction of Jussie Smollett by a jury of his peers and today’s sentencing should send a clear message to everyone in the City of Chicago that false claims and allegations will not be tolerated. The malicious and wholly fabricated claim made by Mr. Smollett resulted in over 1500 hours of police work that cost the City over $130,000 in police overtime. The City feels vindicated in today’s ruling that he is being held accountable and that we will appropriately receive restitution for his actions.”
The original story follows below:
Though its been fivescore and 50-leven years since the curious case of Jussie Smollett and the Fake Hate Crime took over the news cycle and virtual water cooler conversations, it seems the end is finally nigh.
On Thursday, the Empire star was officially sentenced to 150 days in Cook County jail in Chicago beginning today and 30 months of felony probation with the freedom to travel due to the nature of his job. He was also ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago and was fined $25,000. A motion to reconsider sentence was denied but Smollett’s lawyers made it clear they’d be filing a motion to appeal expeditiously.
His sentence was brought forth by Judge James Lin who previously denied the motion to dismiss Smollett’s prior conviction. In his speech moments before, Judge Lin commended Smollett’s lengthy documented history of social justice activism but also concluded that the actor caused “real damage to real victims of actual hate crimes.” He also surmised that the only reason he believed Smollett concocted the plan for the fake hate crime was because his “arrogant, selfish, and narcissistic” side got the better of him. He also specified that the actor’s “premeditation” was an aggravating factor in the case and that he was a “charlatan pretending to be the victim of a hate crime.” However, the judge also admitted to being moved by the caliber of folks who spoke on the actor’s behalf imploring him for leniency (more on that later.)
Though Smollett initially declined to speak, immediately following his sentence he stood up and passionately stated several times that he was “not suicidal” and that should anything happen to him he did not do it to himself.
Before handing down the sentence, Judge Lin heard arguments from Smollett’s defense attorney Tina Glandian who brought forth various legal errors such as prosecutorial misconduct, the deprivation of his right to a fair trial due to errors during jury selection, the shifting of the burden of proof on behalf of the prosecutorial team during the trial and the violation of Smollett’s contractual right to immunity of prosecution from his initial trial back in 2020 and more as reasons for a potential retrial, as captured by Chicago’s WGN9.
At one point, Judge Lin interjected: “I do believe at the end of the day that Mr. Smollett received a fair trial,” later adding that “cookie cutter justice” was not “for him.”
After Glandian finished, the prosecutorial team, specifically special prosecutor Sean Wieber, “universally disagreed” with arguments presented by Glandian and brought up four key points to contest those arguments and described Glandian’s arguments as “meritless” and insufficient for the warranting of a new trial. He was then followed up by his colleague Samuel Mendenhall who echoed similar sentiments.
After a brief recess, the defense elected to question several witnesses during the mitigating factors stage of the hearing in an attempt to further prove Smollett’s documented history of his community involvement and philanthropic contributions. Smollett’s older brother Joel Smollett Jr. also gave a prepared statement before the court to ask the judge for leniency for his brother’s sentencing, as did his grandmother Molly Smollett who called on the media to do better at investigative reporting.
Following those statements, the defense read letters imploring the judge to rule in the way of an alternative to incarceration from co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of the Black Lives Matter Melinda Abdullah, Samuel L. Jackson and his wife LaTanya, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Illinois Innocence Project, Alfre Woodard, and NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson.
Alternatively, Dan Webb of the prosecutorial brought up the aggravating factors circumstances they felt warranted “an appropriate amount of prison time,” reflective of Smollett’s action and the crime and the proper restitution to the city of Chicago. After Webb concluded, Smollett’s lawyer Nenye Uche implored the judge to rule otherwise asking for probation and no fines. But ultimately, Judge Lin ruled in favor of a shorter jail sentence.
As you all very well know by now, back in December, Smollett was found guilty on five of six counts of disorderly conduct for lying to the police for the faux hate crime. And while this part of the story may be over, Smollett is not out of the legal woods entirely. There’s now the looming potential of a whole new trial as the actor’s lawyers move forward with their appeal.