Now that Jussie Smollett has been found guilty of lying to police about his role in staging a hate crime against himself, the courts should hold him accountable for perjuring himself on the witness stand as well.
When he took the stand in defense of himself, Smollett repeatedly denied that he orchestrated the attack against himself and told jurors, “What happened to me happened.” Asked directly whether he had ever “planned a hoax,” Smollett replied, “Never in my life.”
Smollett definitely seemed to be perjuring himself, as all of the evidence suggested. He lied to the jury just like he lied to Chicago police back in 2019. The Osundairo brothers, the alleged attackers who worked with Smollett as extras on the set of his show Empire, said that Smollett asked them to take him through a “dry run” of the staged attack the day before it was supposed to occur and then gave them a $3,500 check, which they said they believed was for their help in the hoax. Smollett also refused to press charges against the brothers, even after the police had taken them into custody, and he tried to withhold evidence from Chicago police, refusing to hand over his phone, medical records, or a DNA sample. Although it is common for suspects to refuse such things, it is unusual for supposed victims to do so.
The court has two options if it wants to punish Smollett for giving false testimony. It can hold another trial, which would be costly and time-consuming. Or it can take into account Smollett’s false testimony when it sentences him for five felony counts of disorderly conduct and add to the prison time he might serve.
As National Review’s Andrew McCarthy noted, Illinois’s sentencing guidelines and past trial precedent allow the courts to enhance a defendant’s sentence for “obstructing or impeding the administration of justice.” Perjury, or deliberately “providing a false version of events, is one such example of obstruction, he said.
The maximum sentence for perjury in Illinois is five years in prison. Though Smollett likely won’t be punished that severely, he could serve two or maybe even three years in prison if an obstruction charge is added to his sentence, according to McCarthy. That’s significant because most experts have argued Smollett won’t serve time at all.
Smollett’s sentencing has not yet been scheduled. But when he does appear in court again, he should be forced to learn what happens when you don’t take the judicial process seriously.