Samuel L. Jackson, Wife LaTanya Write Letter on Jussie Smollett's Behalf Asking for Leniency When Sentencing
By Miguel A. Melendez
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Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, sent a letter to the judge ahead of Jussie Smollett's sentencing in his disorderly conduct case and implored the judge to have mercy on the actor and find an alternative to incarceration.
In the letter, dated Feb. 24 and obtained by ET, the Jacksons write to judge James B. Linn and inform him that they've known the 39-year-old actor since he was a baby living down the street from them in New York City. They say they're also aware of the difficult decisions judges have to make in these circumstances.
"It is with the respect of knowing this, that I humbly implore you to please find an alternative to incarceration for Jussie Smollett," the couple writes in the letter. "It is my understanding that Jussie was convicted of Class 4, disorderly conduct, which to my understanding, people convicted of this offense historically are sentenced to various alternatives to incarceration."
The Jacksons also reminded the judge that Smollett has no prior criminal record and has never been violent.
"We have often broken bread with this young man as we discussed the right and wrong ways to live," the letter continues. "Jussie comes from a good family whom we are proud to know intimately and who we know stand ready to provide the support and monitoring assistance that they can provide for him in an alternative probation scenario."
In the letter, the couple lays out Smollett's service to his community and beyond -- from woking to stop the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the U.S. to dispensing aid to Africa and Israel. The Jacksons also say Smollett has "used his celebrity to impact community outreach work such as providing water during the Flint, Michigan crisis."
The Jacksons are adamant that an alternative to incarceration is warranted as they believe Smollett has already suffered enough.
"Jussie has already suffered a great deal of punishment, as this situation has destroyed his existing career and impugned his reputation," the letter concludes. "Please Judge Linn, in God's name, please save this young man and allow him to be of service. Jussie Smollett is worth the risk and the investment."
Just days after sending the letter on Smollett's behalf, Jackson spoke with ET about being a service to others and making an impact wherever possible.
"Service is service and LaTanya and I give service in every way we possibly can," Jackson said. "The fact that I’ve been fortunate enough to survive a lot of different conflicts in terms of trying to make change and affecting change while still being a viable person even though [my] moral code [is] sometimes not the thing everybody wants to hear. But I don’t adhere to the 'shut up and dribble' kinda thing, so, that’s just one of the aspects of who I am, and us being a part of a revolutionary ideal that we've always had that -- there are wrongs that need to be righted and someone’s gotta stand up because if we don’t stand up for anything, we'll fall for everything."
Smollett, who appeared alongside Jackson in the 1997 film Eve's Bayou, was found guilty on five of the six counts of disorderly conduct back in December. He faces up to three years in prison. Smollett was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct in February 2020, when prosecutors alleged that the former Empire star, who is Black and gay, paid two brothers, Abel and Ola Osundairo, $3,500 to help stage a homophobic and racist attack against him in January 2019.
The actor claimed the two men beat him, yelled "racist and homophobic slurs," dumped an "unknown chemical substance" on him and put a noose around his neck.