Jussie Smollett sentencing (Update: Judge Linn 'You put the noose around your own neck.') (Update: Smollett: 'I am innocent! And I am not suicidal')

Some pre-sentencing drama taking place today. Jussie Smollett was supposed to be in court for his sentencing a 1 pm Chicago time. However, as it got to be 10 minutes before 1 pm, there was still no sign of Smollett. The local CBS affiliate covering the trial started a countdown of sorts with one legal analyst noting that showing up late for court was a surefire way to show a lack of respect for the judge. Finally at 1:01 pm Smollett’s SUV arrived in front of the courthouse and he escorted his 92-year-old grandmother inside.

There was more drama on the courthouse steps as Smollett’s bodyguards began shoving reporters out of the way. One reporter accused one of the bodyguards of “battery” for knocking down a photographer. “Kind of a violent entrance, shoving and throwing people around,” the reporter said.

As I said yesterday, I’m hoping Smollett at least gets some jail time largely because he has been lying about this incident for three years now. He’ll be given one last chance to speak before the judge issues his sentence. If he wanted to show some remorse he could confess that he planned this racial hate hoax for his own benefit. My guess is he’ll just keep lying. There are cameras allowed inside the courtroom today so whatever happens we’ll get to see it live.

But even before we get to that, the defense has filed a motion to seek a new trial. As I write this, Smollett’s attorney Tina Glandian is making her case.

The judge will have to dispense with that motion first. I’ll update this story when we get to the sentencing. Until then, here’s the live feed from inside the courtroom.

Update: The prosecution is now responding to the defense motion for a new trial. Attorney Samuel Mendenhall, who is black, said that despite some testimony that one of people seen on the street that night was white, the Osundairo brothers were in fact the people that witness saw. “Your honor is well aware the actual two people that ran by him got on the stand and testified, Abel Osundairo and Ola Osundairo,” Mendenhall said. He continued, “Your honor if nothing else has been established in this entire trial I think we can both agree it’s been established that they’re not white.”

Update: After speaking for about 10 minutes about several points raised by Smollett’s defense, the judge stated, “I’m going to stand by my findings and rulings. I do believe at the end of the day that Mr. Smollett received a fair trial, that he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by the jury based on the evidence that was presented, that there was nothing unconstitutional about these proceedings. His motion for post-trial relief is respectfully denied.”

With that, the judge announced a 10-minute break to be followed by sentencing. Here’s video of the judge’s statement.

Update: Everyone is back and attorney Mendenhall is now reading a victim impact statement on behalf of the Chicago PD.

And now the defense is offering mitigating testimony. The music director for the show Empire is talking about Smollett’s generous giving of his “time, treasure and talent.”

Update: Smollett’s family is now testifying to his character. He’s in tears after a long statement by his older brother.

Update: One of Smollett’s lawyers is now reading part of a letter of support sent by Black Lives Matter.

His attorneys have read through letters from Samuel L. Jackson and Alfre Woodard among others. Woodard is praising Smollett and asking for a non-custodial sentence. She says she fears for his safety if he is incarcerated.

Update: Now prosecutor Dan Webb is talking about special circumstances the judge should make note of prior to sentencing. “Far as I know as I stand before your honor, in the three years that this case has been pending, three years, Mr. Smollett has never made any statement publicly or in a courtroom or in a court pleading to ever accept any acknowledgment that he’s responsible for what happened here,” Webb said.

“We are recommending to your honor that the seriousness of this crime should result in a period of incarceration,” Webb said. He declines to recommend a specific amount of time.

Update: After a statement from the defense on sentencing the judge gives a five minute break. If Smollett is going to speak on his own behalf it will be when the sentencing resumes.

Update: Asked if he wants to say anything, Smollett declines. Finally, the judge says the sentence is not at all influenced by the public interest in the trial.

“The hypocrisy is just astounding,” Judge Linn says, saying that Smollett was taught to be sensitive so issues of race and justice his entire life and then wound up hoaxing a hate crime.

“You know better than anybody else that these are serious matters,” the judge said.

Judge Linn said Smollett did it for the attention. “You wanted to make yourself more famous and for a while it worked. Everybody was talking about you. The lights were on you. You were actually throwing a national pity party for yourself.”

Here’s a bit of Linn’s sentencing statement:

Judge Linn also makes a point of saying this was a crime of premeditation. Smollett woke up with the intent of doing something wrong. He describes it as a kind of skit for which Smollett wrote the script and did the casting of the Osundairo brothers.

Speaking of the incident itself, Judge Linn says directly to Smollett, “You put the noose around your own neck.”

Judge Linn said the first responding officer asked Smollett what happened, “Then you start to lie and you haven’t stopped lying ever since. You’ve been lying and lying and lying about this case and that’s why you’re here.”

“You committed hour upon hour of pure perjury,” Judge Linn said speaking of Smollett’s testimony during trial.

Finally Judge Linn announces the sentence: 30 months felony probation, restitution of $120,106 to the city and a $25,000 fine. Smollett will spend the first 150 days of his sentence in Cook County jail.

Immediately after this long statement by the judge, Smollett pulls down his mask and repeats “I am not suicidal.” He then stands up and begins to rant, “I am innocent! And I am not suicidal. If I did this then it means that I stuck my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBTQ community. Your honor I respect you and I respect the jury but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal and if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself.”

Here’s video of his outburst.

There was one more outburst as he was led out of the courtroom. I don’t think Jussie Smollett has learned anything at all from this experience.

I’m not sure if there’s going to be any more updates today. I’m just glad he got some jail time. He very much deserved that and the speech about his glaring hypocrisy that the judge delivered. Incredible to think that State’s Attorney Kim Foxx dismissed this case as if nothing very significant had happened. Hopefully she’ll be asked about the verdict sometime soon.