Jussie Smollett Trial Starts Today

Nearly 3 years after his alleged attack made headlines
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 29, 2021 12:01 AM CST
Jussie Smollett Trial Starts Today
Actor Jussie Smollett smiles and waves to supporters before leaving Cook County Court after his charges were dropped Tuesday, March 26, 2019, in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty, File)

Nearly three years after actor Jussie Smollett claimed he was the victim of a hate crime attack on the streets of Chicago, the openly gay Black actor is going on trial on charges that he faked the whole thing. Smollett, who did not appear on the final season of Empire despite his contract being renewed after the scandal, has pleaded not guilty to charges of felony disorderly conduct, the AP reports. But police and prosecutors say he hired two brothers to attack him, put a noose around his neck, and make references to then-President Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. Those brothers are expected to testify that Smollett arranged the whole thing and paid them for it, the AP reports.

It's not clear whether Smollett himself will testify. Jury selection begins Monday, and the trial is expected to last a week. The Chicago Sun-Times reports it's fairly low stakes for Smollett, as he's expected to get a light sentence—possibly just probation—if convicted. Not testifying is Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, who was involved in the bizarre path to Smollett's trial: initial charges against him were dropped by her office, and then he was indicted again a year later after a special prosecutor was appointed; while no illegal conduct by Foxx or her office was found, the special prosecutor's probe did find Foxx abused prosecutorial discretion when she dropped the charges. (More Jussie Smollett stories.)

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