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Jussie Smollett sentencing underway in Chicago

CHICAGO – Jussie Smollett’s sentencing is underway in Chicago criminal court. The former “Empire” actor was convicted on five counts of felony disorderly conduct for lying to police after his eight-day trial late last year. Smollett, 39, is facing up to three years in jail for the crimes but before Judge James Linn could hand down his sentence, he had to rule on a Hail Mary motion to vacate the charges filed by the artist’s legal team last month. Tina Glandian, one of Smollett’s attorneys, argued the court made 13 critical errors and constitutional violations, including wrongfully dismissing jurors based on their race and sexuality and depriving the actor of his right to a fair trial by limiting the number of spectators allowed in the courtroom. She said Smollett’s charges should’ve never been brought because the court erred in their decision to appoint a special prosecutor, arguing they never had the authority to do so. Glandian again asserted Smollett was a victim of double jeopardy after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office agreed to drop the original charges he faced in March 2019 in exchange for community service and the forfeiture of his $10,000 bond. Smollett was told that if he agreed to the terms, he wouldn’t be hauled into court again, Glandian asserted. “A deal is a deal and the state of Illinois is not exempt from that ancient principle,” Glandian said. “The case should’ve been dismissed.” Sean Wieber from the Office of the Special Prosecutor countered that Glandian’s arguments were “meritless” and “riddled with distortions.” “[Smollett] raises a variety of alleged procedural .. errors committed by anyone and everyone involved in this case except of course for Mr. Smollett himself and his lawyers,” Wieber argued. Linn denied the defense’s motion. Around 3:30 p.m. local time, Smollett’s supporters began delivering statements in his defense ahead of Linn’s sentencing decision. Prosecutors delivered a single victim impact statement before handing the floor to the defense. The statement was from the City of Chicago, which wants Linn to demand $130,000 in restitution from Smollett to recoup overtime costs the Chicago Police Department spent investigating his falsely reported crime. “The overwhelming stress and fatigue that was put on the Chicago officers who were involved in the case were immense,” the statement read. “While the city can address the financial cost of Mr. Smollett’s false report and the investigation that ensued, a cost that can never be measured is the harm of reducing the likelihood of actual victims of hate crimes to report these crimes.” Watch the sentencing live here.

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