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Thursday, March 23, 2023

During Appeal, Jussie Smollett Released from County Jail

After six nights in jail, Jussie Smollett was released after an appeals court agreed with his attorneys that he should be released pending his appeal of his conviction for lying to police about a racial and homophobic assault.

On Wednesday, the former “Empire” star was escorted out of the Cook County Jail by security. As he walked into an awaiting SUV, he said nothing, but his lawyers argued Smollett, who is Black and homosexual, was the victim of a racist justice system and individuals playing politics.

Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail by a Cook County judge last week after being convicted of five felony charges of disorderly conduct for lying to police. Smollett declared his innocence and added, “I am not suicidal.” in an outburst shortly after the sentence was handed down. And if something bad happens to me while I’m in there, it’s not my fault. And I’m sure you’re all aware of it.”

Smollett might be freed after posting a $150,000 personal recognizance bond, which means he doesn’t have to put money down but pledges to appear in court as needed.

Speaking to reporters outside the jail after Smollett departed, Smollett defense attorney Nenye Uche said the Smollett family is “very very satisfied with today’s events.” Smollett had not eaten and simply drank water while in detention, according to Uche, but he could not specify why.

He chastised the special prosecutor’s decision to re-charge Smollett after the first charges were dismissed and he paid a fine by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. He also said Judge James Linn’s sentence for a low-level criminal was severe, and that the appeal court doesn’t “play politics.”

“The fundamental debate is whether or not Black guys should be escorted to jail for a class 4 crime. If you believe they should, you should be ashamed,” Uche remarked.

During Smollett’s sentence, special prosecutor Dan Webb urged that he serve “an reasonable period of jail time.”

After the hearing, Webb stated, “His behaviour denigrated hate crimes.” “His actions will deter other hate crime victims from coming forward and reporting their offenses to law enforcement.”

Smollett’s attorneys argued that by the time the appeal process was concluded, he would have served his sentence and that if he stayed in Cook County Jail, he would be in danger of bodily violence.

In a response to Smollett’s request, the special prosecutor’s office rejected the assertion that his health and safety were in jeopardy “factually inaccurate,” adding that Smollett was being held in protective custody at the jail.

The court’s ruling is the latest chapter in a peculiar saga that began in January 2019 when Smollett reported to Chicago police that he had been attacked by two men wearing ski masks in a racial and homophobic attack. The manhunt for the assailants quickly devolved into an inquiry into Smollett, who was arrested on allegations of orchestrating the incident and lying to police about it.

Smollett allegedly hired two men he knew from his employment on the TV show “Empire” to fake the attack, according to authorities. Prosecutors said he directed them what racial and homophobic obscenities to say, as well as to proclaim that Smollett was in “MAGA Country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s campaign slogan.

In December, a jury found Smollett guilty of five felony counts of disorderly conduct, which is the charge made when someone lies to the police. On the sixth count, he was found not guilty. Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in prison by Judge James Linn last week; with good conduct, he might have been out in as low as 75 days.

Throughout the trial, Smollett maintained his innocence. He yelled at the judge during sentence that he was innocent, telling him that he was not suicidal and that if he died in detention, it would be someone else, not him, who would have taken his life.

When Jussie learned the news, Uche claimed the first thing he did was put his palms on the glass between them, and that he had nearly given up hope in the US constitutional system. “I believe he was on the verge of giving up,” Uche remarked.

The next move, he added, will be to appeal the judgement.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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