Prosecutor Says Jussie Smollett 'Compounded the Harm...by Lying' to the Jury; Could He Face Further Charges?

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

The drama finally came to an end with the verdict in the Jussie Smollett case today.

The jury found Smollett guilty on five felony counts of disorderly conduct related to the false reporting to the police. He was found not guilty on one of the charges. Each of the charges could get him three years in prison, but it was anticipated by some that he would get less, more along the lines of probation.

Smollett arrived late and with a big entourage, in a final egotistical flourish. He had been told that he needed to get back into court if a verdict came in within thirty minutes, and he was late — which says something right there about how much respect he has for the court.

Smollett’s attorney indicated that they would appeal. If they think that’s getting overturned — when pigs fly.

Special Prosecutor Dan Webb skewered Smollett after the verdict came in, saying that Smollett compounded the harm that he had already done by lying to the jury. He said the jury implicitly concluded that by their verdict, rejecting Smollett’s claims that there wasn’t a hoax.

Smollett is used to playing to an audience. You can lie to the media and get away with it. You can even have them take up for you in the process, as they did with Jussie Smollett. But you can’t lie under oath.

That raises a couple of possibilities. Now they could theoretically go after Smollett on a perjury charge.

But another more immediate and less problematic way of addressing the lying would be for the prosecution to argue it as an aggravating factor in this present case on sentencing. Webb said, “We’ll let the judge decide what to do,” indicating he was likely to plumb that question on sentencing.

As former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains:

Illinois has sentencing guidelines, which mirror the federal sentencing guidelines in many important particulars. Under the federal guidelines, a defendant’s sentence may be enhanced by the trial judge for “obstructing or impeding the administration of justice.” One example of such obstruction is trial perjury. (See section 3C1.1, application notes, example (c) under “Examples of Covered Conduct.”) Illinois’s guidelines are not laid out with the clarity of the federal manual, but there are plenty of state cases holding that it is proper for a judge to enhance a sentence based on a finding that a defendant committed perjury at the trial.

So while he might be looking at no real time because of no real, prior record, he may have just bought himself some, with the aggravating factor of lying.

Perhaps the funniest but the real reaction from the major players in the case came from Ola Osundairo. While Smollett might have had the bigger entourage, Ola got in the last word. He sort of mocked the media’s take on Ola and his brother for referring to them as “Nigerians,” saying he should have brought his “Nigerian accent.” While they are of Nigerian descent, they were both born and raised in Chicago.

Ola wished his brother luck on his boxing match tonight, and then said “Nigerian-American lives matter.” A nice rebuke of Smollett and the BLM who showed support him.