L.A, 2022-03-16 14:43:00. Jussie Smollett was released from prison on appeal
CHICAGO – Jussie Smollett was released Wednesday after six nights behind bars after an appeals court agreed with his attorney that he should be released pending an appeal of his conviction for lying to police about a racist and anti-gay attack.
The former “Empire” actor is released from the Cook County Jail surrounded by security. He did not comment that he got into an SUV waiting for him, but his attorneys said Smollett, who is black and gay, was the target of a racist justice system and people in politics.
The appeals court ruling came after a Cook County judge ruled Smollett last week to immediately begin serving 150 days in prison for convicting him of five felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. In the outburst immediately after the verdict, Smollett 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 appeals court said Smollett could be released after making a personal pledge of $150,000, meaning he did not have to pay the money but agreed to appear in court as required.
Smollett’s defense attorney, Nene O’Shea, told reporters outside the prison after Smollett’s departure that the Smollett family was “extremely pleased with today’s developments.” O’Shea said that during his time in prison, Smollett did not eat and only drank water, although he did not say why.
He criticized the special counsel’s decision to indict Smollett again after Cook County District Attorney Kim Fox dropped the initial charges and paid a fine. He also called Judge James Lane’s ruling an excessive low-level felony, adding that the appeals court does not “do politics.”
“The real question is: Should black men go to prison for a fourth-degree crime? Shame on you if you think they should,” Uchi said.
Special Prosecutor Dan Webb recommended that Smollett serve an “appropriate prison term” while sentencing.
“His behavior discredited hate crimes,” Webb said after the hearing. “His behavior will discourage others who are victims of hate crimes from coming forward and reporting those crimes to law enforcement.”
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 his request, noting that Smollett was being held in protective custody at the prison.
The court’s decision marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began in January 2019 when Smollett reported to Chicago police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. 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 working on the television show “Empire” to carry out 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 — with good behaviour, he could have been released in as little as 75 days.
Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During the sentencing he shouted at the judge that he was innocent, warning the judge that he had no suicidal tendencies, and that if he died in custody, someone else, not him, would have ended his life.
Uchi said the first thing Josie did when he heard the news was put his hands on the glass between them and said he had almost given up hope in the constitutional order of the United States. “I think he almost gave up,” Uchi said.
He said the next step would be to appeal the ruling.
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