A Cook County judge delivered the ruling last week after immediately serving a 150-day prison sentence to Smollett after pleading guilty to five felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. The appeals court said Smollett could be released after signing a $150,000 personal identification bond, which did not require any money to be paid.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett Breaks Out of Cook County Jail
The 39-year-old, accompanied by a group of gathered media and security and his two siblings, walked out of jail without saying a word, shortly after 8 p.m. His defense team applauded the appellate court’s decision to release him, and one of his attorneys told ABC7 on Thursday that Smollett is still in Illinois to help his family and legal team work on his appeal. is planned.
It was not known whether Smollett would have to live in Cook County or in Chicago; Earlier, Judge James Lynn said he would be allowed to leave the state during his post-prison probationary period and check in with his probation officer remotely.
WATCH: Jussie Smollett’s defense attorney speaks out after release
Smollett’s family is relieved.
Smollett’s brother, JoJo, said, “It is unbearable for family members to let a loved one out of this situation, just to get him out of that situation, I am grateful to God for that.”
Smollett spent six nights in prison. At that time, his lawyers said that the actor did not eat anything but drank only water.
WATCH: Legal analysts look at how Jussie Smollett got out of jail
His lawyers said the actor was broken when they informed him that he would be freed.
“He pushed his hands on the glass and that was it, his eyes were blown out and I never saw him, because he was so strong in there,” said attorney Nenny Uche. “And he said, ‘I have almost lost hope in my constitutional system.'”
Smollett’s lawyers argued that he would have completed his sentence by the time the appeals process was completed and that Smollett could be at risk of bodily harm if he remained in the Cook County Jail.
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Smollett was sentenced to 30 months of probation for lying to police about a hate crime attack against himself in Chicago, with the first 150 days of his sentence in Cook County Jail. He was released less than a week later.
“I think we are here because an appellate court felt it was the right thing to do. I hope everyone realizes that the harassment that happened in that court was absurd,” Attorney Shay Allen said.
The court’s ruling marks the latest chapter in a strange story that began in January 2019, when Smollett, who is black and gay, reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. . The search for the attackers soon turned into Smollett’s investigation and his arrest on charges that he had plotted the attack and lied to the police about it.
The investigation revealed that Smollett paid two men who worked on the TV show “Empire” to stage the attack.
See also | Jussie Smollett begins serving 150 days in prison as lawyers request release during appeal
A jury in December convicted Smollett of five felony counts of disorderly conduct — charges filed when a man lied to police. He was acquitted on the sixth count.
See: Legal analysis of Smollett’s release and appeals process
Judge Lynn sentenced Smollett to 150 days in prison, and with good behavior he could have been released in 75. His lawyers argued that by the time the appeal was decided, he would have completed his prison sentence.
“The Court of Appeals will take its time,” said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer. “It will consider the summaries that are presented to it and make a decision about two things: one, should it reverse the conviction? And two, even if convicted, was the sentence justified?”
Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During the sentencing he shouted at the judge that he was innocent, warned the judge that he was not committing suicide and that if he died in custody there was someone else, not him, who would have taken his life.
look | Jussie Smollett’s emotional outburst in court
Cook County Judge James Lynn also ordered Smollett to pay $120,106 in damages to the City of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.
Moments after learning that he was going straight to prison, Smollett announced “I’m not committing suicide!” and “I didn’t do that!” He was detained with a fist in the air and removed from the courtroom.
Lynn provokes Smollett before handing over his sentence for what he refers to as “misconduct and conspiracy”.
“I’m going to tell you Mr. Smollett, I know there is nothing I would do here today that would come close to the damage you have already done to your life,” Lynn said.
Reflecting on the sentence, Lin said Smollett’s “extreme” premonitions about the crime were a serious factor. He also said that the actor had discredited the experiences of real hate crime victims by calling him a “charlatan” and a liar.
Lin said, “You have come to the witness stand. You didn’t. You did. You definitely had the right. But you gave perjury hour after hour,” Lin said.
look | Judge Lin’s full sentencing comment
After the court, Smollett’s family was clearly upset, expressing disappointment that Smollett received jail time and continued to defend his innocence.
His youngest brother, Jockey Smollett, said, “I saw my brother suffer the full extent that he still is. He was attacked, and is now going to jail for assault.” “She is a survivor and has been totally abused. This has to stop!”
Smollett’s defense attorneys were also outraged.
Defense attorney Nenny Uche said, “I’ve never seen a lawyer in my entire career, and none of the other lawyers out here have seen a situation in which a Class 4 felony is treated as a violent crime.” are considered equal.”
After a lengthy investigation and years in court, Smollett was convicted of five of six felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. He faced a maximum prison sentence of three years in all cases.
“These are very low-level crimes and would be exceptional in the ordinary case for someone who has no meaningful criminal history, but it is not the ordinary case,” said ABC legal analyst Gil Soffer.
look | Key moments in the Jussie Smollett case
Sofar said that if Smollett violates the terms of his release, he could go back to prison, but that is unlikely.
Many big names came to Smollett’s defense, writing a letter to the judge asking for leniency.
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Among them was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who wrote in part that “Jussie has a long track record of being a deeply connected and contributing citizen” and that “Jussie is already suffering.”
WATCH: Jussie Smollett’s lawyer says actor in Illinois after release
Actor Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, actress Latanya Jackson, also wrote a letter to the judge, saying, “I humbly request you to please find an alternative to imprisonment.”
When asked for comment, Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx’s office said, “We are focusing on violent crime.”
In response to the Appellate Court’s ruling, statement from Nanny Uche, Jussie Smollett’s attorney:
“We are very pleased with the decision given by the Illinois District Appellate Court. We are pleased that sensationalism and politics will be set aside and that we can finally have an intellectual discussion about our laws with our respected appellate court.
“Three years ago, Jussie and the state of Illinois reached a deferred prosecution agreement in which he paid a ten thousand dollar fine and did community service. As a result, the case was dismissed.
“Being recharged and prosecuted a second time for the same thing is not only morally wrong, but certainly double threatening and thus unconstitutional. Especially when it pertains to an innocent person.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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