The Jussie Smollett Trial

Blair Warren, News Editor

In January 2019, Jussie Smollett, an African American gay man and ex-actor, alleged that he was attacked walking to a downtown Chicago Subway alone in the early morning hours. The actor told the media that this was an act of horrific anti-gay and racist violence. The police quickly took on his case, as the media was in a frenzy over the subject. Then, in late 2019, Smollet was brought up on sixteen felony counts, but all counts against him were dropped a week later. Not even a few months later, in February 2020, Smollet was brought up on 6 more counts.


Now, in 2021, Jussie Smollet is on trial for the six felony counts relating to the 2019 “hate-crime” that were brought against him in February 2020. After police resources were exhausted in an attempt to find the people responsible for attacking the ex-actor, two brothers came forward and admitted to harming Smollett. Quickly, however, it came to light that the brothers were allegedly paid by Smollett to commit the crime. The brothers, Amibola “Bola” (or Abel) and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, who worked with Smollett on the show Empire, admitted publicly to being paid after being questioned by the police. The police quickly moved to arrest, and indictment followed suit. 


On Monday, December 6, 2021, Jussie Smollett took the stand and told his story. Smollett explained what he experienced on that fateful night. He told the court that he heard both homophobic and racial slurs from the Osundario brothers as they beat him, tying a noose around his neck, which he didn’t notice until pointed out later. The reason he didn’t notice the noose was because, “I was getting my a- whooped” (as quoted in ABC News). Smollett testified for six hours, remaining “composed”, as he recounted what seemed to be surely harrowing events. Smollett then continued to tell the jury that, “As a Black man in America, I don’t trust the police, I’m sorry”.


After seven witnesses and an exhausting week of testimonies, the trial came to a conclusion. The case was media-worthy to say the least. With the instigative line of questioning of the witnesses by the defense and several outbursts and arguments with Judge James Linn, defense attorney Tamara Walker begging for a mistrial and sobbing in court, the trial has been plastered everywhere. Though, in the end, it didn’t matter how much of a “facade” both the defendant, Jussie Smollet, and his attorney put up, Smollett was found guilty on five of the six counts of felonies that he was charged for in February of 2020. The jury was said to have deliberated for more than nine hours on Wednesday (December 8, 2021) and Thursday (December 9, 2021). After court was convened to sentence Smollett, he appeared to be glaring at the jury with calm body language and piercing eyes. Smollet was convicted on a Class Four Felony, carrying a three year sentencing and a $25,000 fine. 


Presiding Judge Linn said this about the case, “Mr. Smollett would not have lost the case as he did today, unless the jury found out that he lied to them. The fact that he came up with a ridiculous story to explain his misconduct did not apparently have an impact on the jury’s verdict”(as quoted in CNN).