Court orders Jussie Smollett released pending appeal

CHICAGO — Jussie Smollett was released from prison Wednesday by an appeals court that agreed with his attorneys that he should be released pending his appeal Convicted of lying to police about a racist and homophobic attack.

The judgment came after a The Cook County judge sentenced Smollett last week to serve 150 days in jail immediately for lying to the police following his five misconduct convictions. The appeals court said Smollett could be released after posting $150,000 personal acknowledgment bail.

Smollett’s lawyers had argued that he would have served the sentence pending the conclusion of the appeals process and that Smollett could be at risk of physical injury if he remained incarcerated in the Cook County Jail.

The court’s decision marks the latest chapter in a strange story that began in January 2019, when black and gay man Smollett reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men wearing ski masks. The manhunt for the attackers soon turned into an investigation into Smollett himself and his arrest on charges of orchestrating the attack and lying to police about it.

An appeals court ordered Jussie Smollett released from prison while he appeals his conviction.
An appeals court ordered Jussie Smollett released from prison while he appeals his conviction.
Brian Cassella/Pool via REUTERS

The investigation revealed that Smollett paid two men he knew from the television show Empire to stage the attack.

A jury in December found Smollett guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct – the charge brought when a person lies to the police. He was acquitted on the sixth count. Judge James Linn last week sentenced Smollett to 150 days in prison, but with good behavior he can be released in just 75 days.

Smollett maintained his innocence during the trial. During the sentencing hearing, he yelled at the judge that he was innocent and warned the judge that he was not suicidal and that if he had died in custody, someone else and not he would have taken his life. Court orders Jussie Smollett released pending appeal


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