Jussie Smollett released from Cook County Jail as disorderly conduct conviction appealed

CHICAGO (WLS) — Jussie Smollett was released from Cook County Jail on Wednesday after an appeals court agreed with his attorneys that he should be freed pending appeal of his conviction for lying to the police about a racist and homophobic attack.

The decision came after a Cook County judge last week ordered Smollett to immediately begin serving 150 days in jail for his conviction on five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. The appeals court said Smollett could be released after posting a $150,000 personal bond.

WATCH: Jussie Smollett walks out of Cook County Jail

He left the prison shortly after 8 p.m., in front of a group of gathered media, without saying a word. His defense team welcomed the appeals court’s decision to release him, but did not say where he would go or what he would do as they continued to work on his appeal.

It was unclear whether Smollett should stay in Cook County or Chicago; Earlier, Judge James Linn said that during his post-prison probation he would be allowed to leave the state and check in remotely with his probation officer.

WATCH: Jussie Smollett’s defense lawyers speak after his release

His lawyers said the actor collapsed when they told him he would be released.

“He pushed his hands on the glass and he was, his eyes watered and I never saw that, because he was very strong in there,” lawyer Nenye Uche said. “And he said, ‘I’ve almost lost hope in our constitutional system.'”

Smollett’s attorneys had argued that he would have served his sentence at the end of the appeal process and that Smollett could be in danger of physical harm if he remained locked up in the Cook County Jail.

RELATED: Jussie Smollett in ‘Psychiatric Ward’ Without ‘Special Treatment’, Family Says After Receiving Threats

Smollett was sentenced to 30 months probation for lying to police about staging a hate crime attack on himself in Chicago, with the first 150 days of the sentence in Cook County Jail. He was released after less than a week.

“I think we are here because an appeals court realized it was the right thing to do. I hope everyone realized that the persecution that took place in this courthouse was absurd,” attorney Shay Allen said.

The court ruling marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story that began in January 2019 when Smollett, who is black and gay, reported to Chicago police that he had been the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. The manhunt for the attackers quickly turned into an investigation into Smollett himself and his arrest for orchestrating the attack and lying to police about it.

The investigation revealed that Smollett had paid two men he knew from working on the television show “Empire” to organize the attack.

SEE ALSO | Jussie Smollett begins serving 150-day prison sentence as lawyers seek release during appeal

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

WATCH: Legal analysis of Smollett’s release and appeal proceedings

Judge Linn sentenced Smollett to 150 days in jail 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 served his prison sentence .

“The appeals court will take its time,” ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer said. “She will review the briefs submitted to her and pass judgment on two things: first, should she overturn the conviction? And second, even if the conviction stands, was the sentence appropriate?

Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During sentencing, he shouted to the judge that he was innocent, warning him that he was not suicidal and that if he died in custody, it was someone else, not him, who would have committed suicide.

WATCH | Jussie Smollett’s emotional outburst in court

Cook County Judge James Linn also ordered Smollett to pay $120,106 in restitution to the City of Chicago and a $25,000 fine.

Moments after learning he would be going straight to jail, Smollett said “I’m not suicidal!” and “I didn’t do that!” fist raised as he was taken into custody and removed from the courtroom.

“And if anything happens to me when I go there, I haven’t done it to myself,” Smollett added. “And you all must know that.”

Linn excoriated Smollett before handing down his sentence for what he called “misconduct and shenanigans.”

“I’ll tell you, Mr. Smollett, I know there’s nothing I’m going to do here today that comes close to the damage you’ve already done to your own life,” Linn said.

Reviewing the sentence, Linn said Smollett’s “extreme” premeditation of the crime was an aggravating factor. He also said the actor disparaged the experiences of real hate crime victims, calling him a “charlatan” and a liar.

“You went into the witness box. You didn’t have to. You did. You certainly had the right to. But you committed hours and hours of perjury,” Linn said.

WATCH | Judge Linn’s full remarks on sentencing

After the court, Smollett’s family was visibly upset, expressing their disappointment that Smollett had been imprisoned and continuing to defend his innocence.

“I’ve seen my brother go from being a total victim, which he still is. He was assaulted, and he’s now going to jail for being assaulted,” said Jocqui Smollett, his youngest brother. “He’s a survivor and he’s been completely abused. This has to stop!”

Smollett’s defense attorneys were also furious.

“I have never seen, in my entire career as a lawyer, and none of the other lawyers here have ever seen a situation in which a class 4 felony receives the same treatment as a violent offense,” said the defense lawyer Nenye Uche.

After a lengthy investigation and years in court, Smollett was convicted on five of six disorderly conduct charges for lying to police. He faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison on all counts.

“These are very low level crimes and it would be extraordinary in a normal case for someone without a significant criminal history to face a prison sentence for these crimes, but that is not the normal case,” the analyst said. ABC Legal Gil Soffer. “Given the notoriety, given what he’s done to the city of Chicago, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a very small amount of jail time imposed.”

WATCH | Key moments in the Jussie Smollett case

Several big names came to Smollett’s defense, writing letters to the judge asking for clemency.

RELATED: Sole Black Juror in Jussie Smollett Trial Found Case ‘Sad’, Still Questioning Motive

Among them was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, writing in part that “Jussie has a long track record as a deeply engaged citizen and contributor” and that “Jussie has suffered before.”

Actor Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, actress LaTanya Jackson, also wrote the judge a letter, saying in part, “I humbly implore you to find an alternative to incarceration.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.