Jussie Smollett asks Illinois Supreme Court to toss conviction for staging 2019 attack

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Jussie Smollett is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to throw out his 2021 conviction for staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself in 2019 and lying to Chicago police about it.

"What should have been a straightforward case has been complicated by the intersection of politics and public outrage," Smollett's lawyer wrote in a Monday filing.

The former "Empire" actor, 41, is claiming he is protected by double jeopardy.

In December, an Illinois appeals court affirmed the actor's disorderly conduct conviction and jail sentence in a 2-1 opinion from the Illinois Appellate Court.

Smollett had reported to police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. The search for the attackers soon turned into an investigation of Smollett himself, leading to his arrest on charges he had orchestrated the whole thing.

Authorities said he paid two men whom he knew from work on "Empire," which filmed in Chicago. Prosecutors said Smollett told the men what slurs to shout, and to yell that he was in "MAGA country," a reference to Donald Trump's presidential campaign slogan.

Brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo testified in the trial that Smollett recruited them to fake an attack near his home in downtown Chicago in January 2019. They said Smollett orchestrated the hoax, telling them to rough him up in view of a surveillance camera, and that he said he wanted video of the hoax made public via social media.

A jury convicted Smollett in 2021 on five felony counts of disorderly conduct, one count for each separate time he was charged with lying to police in the days immediately after the alleged attack. He was acquitted on a sixth count, of lying to a detective, weeks after Smollett said he was attacked.

Lawyers for Smollett, who is Black and gay, have publicly claimed that he was the target of a racist justice system and people playing politics. Smollett's spokeswoman, Holly Baird, vowed in December to escalate the case to the Illinois Supreme Court, noting that the opinion at the appellate court wasn't unanimous.

Prosecutors argued what Smollett did caused Chicago police to spend enormous resources investigating an alleged crime that turned out to be fake. Smollett told police someone put a noose around his neck and yelled racist and homophobic slurs.

Contributing: Taijuan Moorman and Rasha Ali, USA TODAY; Ed White, The Associated Press

Jussie Smollett's convictions and jail sentence affirmed by Illinois appeals court

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jussie Smollett wants conviction for attack thrown out: What to know