Jussie Smollett (Photo by Dominic D via Wikimedia Commons)

CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett’s lawyers told an Illinois appellate court Tuesday, Sept. 12 it should toss the former Empire actor’s convictions for staging a racist, homophobic attack against himself in 2019 and then lying about it to Chicago police, arguing that anger over the case led to properly dismissed charges being improperly restored.

Smollett, foregoing his usual three-piece suits in favor of a casual beige jacket and blue jeans, slipped into court for the hour-long oral arguments Tuesday and sat on spectator benches. He seemed to listen intently, leaning forward to follow the debate before the three-judge panel.

Smollett, 41, didn’t speak to reporters after the hearing, and Chicago TV station WGN showed footage of him from behind leaving the court building via an alley, wearing a hat and different coat.

“Public outrage against the defendant cannot overrule the rule of law,” one of his lawyers, Nenye Uche, told the panel, referring to how public perception of Smollett turned after police said he created a crime and wasn’t a victim of one.

Uche added that many of the issues surrounding the appeal and Smollett’s prosecution boil down to the question: “Is it fair?”

If the appeal before the Chicago-based First District Appellate Court fails, Smollett will have to finish a 150-day stint in jail that his trial judge ordered during his 2022 sentencing. Smollett spent just six days in jail before his release pending the outcome of the appeal. A ruling is expected to take several weeks.

— Associated Press