Actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced last week to serve five months in jail following his felony conviction last year for having perpetrated a hate crime hoax in January 2019, when he falsely claimed to have been the victim of a racist and homophobic physical assault.
After having served less than a week of that five-month sentence, however, an appeals court panel on Wednesday ordered Smollett released from the Cook County Jail in Chicago, Illinois pending a future determination on his appeal, Fox News reported.
Out less than a week later
Smollett was permitted to post a $150,000 personal recognizance bond, which allowed him to be released without paying any money but puts him on the hook for that amount if he fails to appear in court or violates the terms of his probation.
In addition to the five months in jail, Smollett had also been sentenced to 30 months of felony probation and was ordered to pay $120,106 in restitution to the city of Chicago as well as a $25,000 fine.
At the time of his sentencing, according to Fox, Smollett erupted in an emotional outburst as he was led out of the courtroom and shouted with a raised fist, “I did not do this, and I am not suicidal, and if anything happens to me when I go there, I did not do it to myself, and you must all know that.”
Appeals court panel agreed with Smollett attorneys’ arguments
Local NBC affiliate WMAQ reported that Smollett’s attorneys had argued to the appeals court panel that their client should be released because he likely would have served his entire jail sentence before a formal appeal could be decided and also claimed that Smollett would be physically endangered and threatened if he remained behind bars.
By a margin of 2-1, the appeals court panel agreed and subsequently ordered his immediate release while the appeals process continues.
Deadline reported that Smollett walked out of the Cook County Jail Wednesday evening surrounded by his family and attorneys, but he declined to speak to any of the gathered reporters.
One of his attorneys, though, Nenye Uche, claimed that Smollett had not eaten any food and had only drank water during his brief incarceration. One of Smollett’s brothers also claimed that the jailed actor had been transferred to the jail’s psychiatric ward, and there were also disputed claims that Smollett had been placed in solitary confinement, ostensibly for his protection.
Attorneys celebrate ruling
Local ABC affiliate WLS reported that Smollett’s attorney Shay Allen told reporters upon the release, “I think we’re here because an appellate court realized this was the right thing to do. I hope everyone realized that the persecution that went on in that courthouse was absurd.”
In a more formal statement following Smollett’s release, attorney Uche said, “We are very happy with the ruling made by the Illinois District Appellate Court. We are pleased that sensationalism and politics will be put aside and we can finally have an intellectual discussion about our laws with our esteemed 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 performed community service. As a result, the case was dismissed,” the lawyer added. “To be recharged and prosecuted for the exact same thing, a second time, is not just morally wrong, but certainly double jeopardy and thus unconstitutional. Especially as it concerns an innocent man.”