After being found guilty in December on five counts relating to staging a hate crime against himself and falsely reporting it to authorities, gay actor Jussie Smollett, 39, is now asking for a retrial.
According to TMZ, Smollett’s lawyers have filed an 83-page motion claiming his constitutional rights were violated when the court prevented his legal team from actively participating in jury selection.
News of the filing comes a couple of days after Cook County’s Judge James Linn said that Smollett would be sentenced March 10, and that he was allowing cameras to be present at the sentencing.
In his new filing, Smollett points to his lawyers not being allowed to ask questions of potential jurors at his original trial to establish “questionable impartiality”. He also claims the prosecution showed a pattern of racism in selecting jurors, and that the judge wrongfully barred the media and public from the courtroom.
The documents claim the prosecutors provided evidence, “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.”
Smollett’s now asking for a new trial or a not guilty verdict.
Smollett’s case dates back to January 2019, when he says he was assaulted whilst out late one night in Chicago. He said the attackers used racial and homophobic slurs against him and put a noose around his neck.
Police later arrested brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo. However, following their investigations, and after it became apparent the Osundairo were friends of Smollett’s, they arrested the actor and charged him with concocting the whole thing himself.
Police say he recruited the brothers to stage the attack to negotiate a bigger pay packet and advance his career. Smollett has always denied this.