[3/21/22] – Former “Empire” Actor Jussie Smollett Released from Jail Pending an Appeal of His Conviction After Serving Only Six-Days

The 39-year-old former “Empire” actor, Jussie Smollett, was released from Cook County Jail on Wednesday, March 16th, after the First District Appeals Court in Illinois granted an emergency motion that was filed by his defense attorneys. Smollett had been sentenced the week prior to 30-months of felony probation and 150-days in jail. He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $120,000 and a $25,000 fine for falsely reporting to the police that he was a victim of a hate crime in January 2019. Smollett, who is both Black and gay, made national news after he told the Chicago Police Department that he had been attacked by two men who yelled both racist and homophobic slurs at him, poured bleach on him, and wrapped a noose around his neck. After investigating, the police determined that the alleged attack had been orchestrated by Smollett who had paid the two men who are brothers to “attack” him. Smollett maintained his innocence throughout the trial and while under oath, but was subsequently found guilty in December of 2021 on five of the six counts disorderly conduct for the hate crime hoax. During the sentencing, Judge James Linn told Smollett that he was not a victim of a racial hate or a homophonic hate crime and that he was just a “charlatan” that was pretending to be a victim. Although some legal experts have said that the court proceedings could take one to two years, others claim that the high-profile nature of this case could accelerate a decision. According to the New York Times, Smollett’s defense team is expected to argue that the appointment of a special prosecutor to reassess the case was never valid and that Smollett was subjected to double jeopardy because he had performed community service back in 2019 and had surrendered his bond.

Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.



  • Writing: Explain why Jussie Smollett’s case has received national attention.
  • Debate: According to Jussie Smollett’s legal team, he was punished twice. Do you believe that Jussie Smollett was subjected to double jeopardy?
  • Poll: Jussie Smollett’s due process rights were violated, so the appeals court should reverse its conviction. (Agree or Disagree).
  • Short Answer: Discuss Jussie Smollett’s sentence and whether you think it was appropriate.   

Cover Image: iStock/tzahiV

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