Judges ruled on Thursday ruled that disgraced “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett must be released from jail on bond after just six days behind bars. Smollett was sentenced to five months behind bars last week for staging a hate crime and lying to the police, and was serving out his sentence at the notorious Cook County Jail.
Two appellate justices agreed that Smollett should go free while his lawyers work on the appeal of his conviction on five felony counts, the Daily Mail reported.
“The defendant has been convicted of non-violent offenses and that this court will be unable to dispose of the instant appeal before the defendant would have served his entire sentence of incarceration,” said appellate justices Thomas E. Hoffman and Joy Cunningham. “It is hereby ordered that the motion of the defendant, Jussie Smollett, to stay his sentence of incarceration and to grant him a bond pending the disposition of his appeal or until further order of this court is granted.”
A third judge, Maureen Connors, took exception, writing, “I dissent and would deny this motion.”
Smollett’s lawyers earlier this week submitted an emergency motion in the appellate court that included a note from a doctor who said the gay actor has “compromised immunity” and should be released due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Over the weekend, Smollett’s family took to social media to strenuously object to his treatment in jail, including the decision on behalf of authorities to put him in the “psych ward.”
According to the Daily Mail, Smollette was moved out of the psych ward on Tuesday, “where he had been forced to sleep on a ‘restraint bed’ and into general population in the detention center.”
The actor’s lawyers had argued to the panel of judges that his sentence would be fully served by the time the appeals process was completed.
Smollet’s release is just another bizarre twist on a strange story of an bit actor trying to raise his profile by fabricating a hate crime against himself.
In January 2019, Smollett, who is black and gay, told Chicago police that he was attacked by two men wearing ski masks making racist and homophonic remarks.
After a brief manhunt, police turned their focus on Smollett who they said paid two men that he knew from the TV show to stage the attack.
He was convicted in December on five counts of disorderly conduct due to misleading the cops. He was acquitted of a sixth count.
Judge James Linn sentenced him to 150 days with the chance of reducing his incarceration to 75 days with good behavior.
Smollett’s sanity was questioned after he cried out that he was innocent in court last Thursday, and repeatedly informed the court that he was not suicidal.
During the bizarre outburst, the completely unrepentant Smollett hollered: “I am innocent, and I’m not suicidal!” Rising from his seat, he added, “If I did do this it means I stuck my fist in the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years, and the fears of the LGBT community!”
Turning to the judge he said, “I respect you and I respect the jury but I did not do this, and I’m not suicidal.”
He added: “And if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that! I am not suicidal!” he bellowed with his fist in the air, as he was led out of the courtroom. “I am NOT suicidal and I am innocent!”
Smollett and his family have been trying to drum up support for his cause by blaming his sentence on racism in the criminal justice system.
Legal Analyst Irv Miller explains on CBS Chicago why he was not surprised the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Smollett be released on bond less than a week after he was sent to jail.
Miller noted that Smollett’s crime was a nonviolent felony, and it wouldn’t be fair for him to serve “all this time” before the Appellate Court has a chance to rule on the appeal.
Many nonviolent offenders, it should be noted, have been in jail in Washington DC for over year on charges related to the January 6 riot.