Jussie Smollett given more time to file appeal brief, but court warns 'no further extension will be granted'

A state appeals court on Monday granted a request by Jussie Smollett’s defense lawyers for a fifth extension to file their initial argument, but warned it would be the last time.

"A fifth motion for more time to file an opening brief, particularly by the defendant in a criminal matter, is rare," the three-judge panel of the First District Appellate Court wrote in its order. "Nevertheless, the court grants the motion to serve and file appellant’s brief on or before March 1, 2023. After that date, no further extension will be granted."

In their motion last week for yet another extension, Smollett’s attorneys said their brief was completed and, at the time, they were still waiting for a ruling on a request to file an oversized brief in the case.

The actor and singer is appealing his conviction for staging a hate crime against himself in Chicago and lying about it. His lawyers have said they needed to file 80 pages instead of the standard maximum of 50. They cited the complexity of the case and previous cases that were brought against the actor after the 2019 hoax first came to light.

Smollett was indicted that year but in a much-criticized reversal, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office dropped all charges against Smollett in consideration of community service and his agreement to turn over the $10,000 he had posted for bond to the city of Chicago.

That led to Special Prosecutor Dan Webb being appointed to review the decision, and he announced new charges against the actor the following year.

Attorneys for the special prosecutor’s office opposed the filing of an oversized brief, noting Smollett’s appeal dealt only with the case that led to his 2021 conviction, not earlier cases.

In the ruling Tuesday, the judges allowed Smollett to file an oversized brief but not as large as they had requested. "Instead, Defendant-Appellant may file a brief not to exceed 20,000 words, a 33% increase in the number of words," the court ruled.

A jury convicted Smollett in December 2021 on five counts of felony disorderly conduct and he was sentenced by Judge James Linn to five months in jail. The sentencing hearing ended with the actor yelling that he was not suicidal before being led from the courtroom by sheriff’s deputies.

Smollett only served six days in the Cook County Jail before he was released on his own recognizance pending appeal. He will be required to go back and serve the rest of his time if his conviction is not overturned.

His attorneys allege the charges bought by Webb amount to double jeopardy. They have also criticized rulings Linn made before and during the actor’s trial.