Court orders Jussie Smollett released from jail during appeal
Actor Jussie Smollett has been released from jail by an appeals court that agreed with his lawyers that he should be freed pending his appeal of a conviction for making false statements to police about a physical attack at the hands of two men in which he was allegedly targeted because of his race and sexual orientation.
The ruling came after a Cook County judge sentenced Smollett last week to immediately begin serving 150 days in jail for his conviction on five felony counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police.
Speaking after the sentencing, the star of the TV show "Empire" proclaimed his innocence and said, "I am not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that."
The appeals court has agreed to release the actor once he has posted his own recognizance bond of $150,000, meaning that he does not have to put down any money but promises to appear in court as required. It is unclear at this time when he will be released.
Smollett's attorneys argued that the process would have been completed by the time of his release, and that Smollett could be in danger of physical harm if he remained locked up in Cook County Jail. The prosecution responded by calling this claim "factually incorrect."
In January 2019, actor Jussie Smollett reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. In February 2019, the manhunt for the attackers turned into an investigation of Smollett himself and his arrest on charges of orchestrating the attack and lying to police about it.
The investigation revealed Smollett paid two men he knew from his work on "Empire" to stage the attack.
A jury convicted Smollett in December on five felony counts of disorderly conduct — the charge filed when a person lies to police. He was acquitted on a sixth count. Judge James Linn sentenced Smollett last week to 150 days in jail, but with good behavior he could have been released in as little as 75 days. Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial.
Appellate Court Justices Thomas Hoffman and Joy Cunningham signed the order, while Justice Maureen Connors dissented.
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