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Who Is Jussie Smollett?

The past few months have produced several “trials of the century” that redefine the criminal process. Jussie Smollett’s case went to trial this month, but who is Jussie Smollett, and why is he on trial?


Jussie Smollett, a breakout star from the show Empire, contacted police on January 29, 2019, to report an attack involving two masked white men who called out homophobic and racial slurs. Smollett, who is Black and openly gay, told police that the assailants tied a rope around his neck and poured chemicals on him during the attack.

Smollett notified police of the attack 40 minutes later and seemed hesitant to make a formal complaint as a public figure. Officials began investigating the incident as a hate crime due to the racial underpinnings and mention of “MAGA country” during the attack.

As the news broke of the alleged hate crime, Smollett’s costars supported him, and the network released a statement against racial violence and hatred. The investigation progressed, leading police to a surveillance image of potential attackers who fit Smollett’s description. In addition to a threatening letter sent to Jussie at the production office, the photo inspired more people to stand with Jussie.

However, at the same time, there was growing skepticism over the case and whether these claims were true. Chicago police told reporters they had no reason to doubt Jussie’s allegations, and the investigation continued.

The case begins to take a turn when Nigerian brothers Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundario are detained on a flight from Chicago to Nigeria. The news broke of the arrest prompting Smollett to tell journalists that he felt that saying that the assailants were anything but white would have garnered less support.


Both Osundario brothers are released in a few days without being charged. Police attempt to speak with Smollett as the Osundario’s testimonies change the trajectory of the investigation. Over the next few months, Smollett is charged with disorderly conduct, released, sued by Chicago, charged again, and indicted.

Smollet was found guilty of felony disorderly conduct on December 9, 2021, for staging a fake hate crime against himself,

Why Did He Do It?

Prosecutors believe Jussie staged the attack to gain publicity. To support this theory, the Osundario brothers testified that they believed Smollett hired them to stage the incident to get media attention, not to file criminal accusations with Chicago police.

However, while Smollett agreed that he did write the brothers a check, it wasn’t for staging a crime but to compensate them for their services as his personal trainers. They feel vindicated by the verdict and are more than happy to return to their everyday lives.

On the other hand, the defense is disappointed and frustrated with the verdict.

Conflicting Points of View

Smollett’s defense team believes that the verdict is inconsistent and unfair. This case has been a bundle of confusion and tension since the initial phone call to the police and continues to be confusing even after the verdict.

Regardless of repeat investigations, the appointment of a special prosecutor, and evidence, this case has never been clear-cut, which begs the question, “can the verdict in a case like this be trusted?”

Fairness and Doubt

There’s no denying the fact that falsely reporting a crime is wrong and takes valuable resources and hours to resolve. The issue is that many spectators to the case are still unsure whether the verdict is right or whether Smollett was telling the truth and is another victim of a racists criminal justice system.

While this may not seem like reason enough to criticize the case, there is the matter of doubt among the jury. The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to a fair trial, which includes an impartial jury.

Not only must this jury be impartial, but they must reach a verdict without a reasonable doubt. In a criminal trial, the prosecutor carries the burden of proving to the jury that the defendant is guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This means that the jurors have no hesitation over the verdict and feel that they are making the right decision based on the evidence.

While the jury in the Smollett trial seems confident in their decision, did the prosecution fulfill their duty to prove their point beyond a reasonable doubt?

If you believe your right to a fair trial has been ignored, contact The Draskovich Law Group.