Court orders Josie Smollett’s release from prison on appeal

Court orders Josie Smollett's release from prison on appeal

New York, 2022-03-16 14:43:00. Court orders Josie Smollett’s release from prison on appeal

CHICAGO – Josie Smollett was ordered released Wednesday by an appeals court who agreed with his attorney that he should be free pending the appeal of his conviction of lying to Chicago police about a racist and anti-gay attack.

The decision came after a Cook County judge ruled Smollett last week to immediately begin serving 150 days in prison for five counts of disorderly conduct offenses for lying to police.

On the spree right after the sentencing, the former star of the TV show “Empire” proclaimed his innocence and said “I’m not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go there, I don’t do it myself, and you all should know that.”

The Court of Appeals, in its 2-1 decision, said Smollett could be released after making a personal pledge of $150,000, meaning he does not have to deposit the money but agrees to appear in court as required. It was not clear late on Wednesday when he would be released.

Smollett’s attorneys argued that he would have completed his sentence by the time his appeals process was completed and that Smollett might be at risk of physical harm if he remained in custody in the Cook County Jail.

The Special Prosecutor’s Office called the allegation that Smollett’s health and safety were at risk “factually incorrect,” in response to the lawsuit, noting that Smollett was being held in protective custody at the prison. After he began serving his sentence last week, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Smollett was being held in his own cell, monitored by security cameras and an officer.

Deputy Special Prosecutor Sean Webber also questioned the idea of ​​Smollett’s release because his sentence would be complete before the appeals court’s ruling, saying that under this reasoning, anyone facing a sentence shorter than a few years would be able to remain free.

“This is simply not, and cannot be, the norm,” Weber wrote.

The court’s decision marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began in January 2019 when Smollett, who is black and gay, told Chicago police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. He stated that the men assaulted him while he was walking near his home in downtown Chicago to get something to eat. One of the men, Smollett said, put a noose around his neck.

The hunt for the attackers soon turned into an investigation and arrest of Smollett himself, accused of having orchestrated the attack and lied to the police about it.

The investigation revealed that Smollett had paid two men he knew from his work at The Empire to launch the attack.

A jury convicted Smollett in December of five counts of disorderly conduct – the charge brought when someone lies to the police. He was acquitted of the sixth count.

Judge James Lane sentenced Smollett last week to 150 days in prison, but with good behaviour, he could have been released in as little as 75 days. Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial.

Court of Appeals judges Thomas Hoffman and Joey Cunningham signed the order granting Smollett’s request for release, which indicated he had been convicted of nonviolent crimes. Judge Maureen Connors disagreed.

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