Sun. Jun 26th, 2022

Appeals court orders Jussie Smollett freed pending his appeal on hate hoax conviction

Jussie Smollett, the disgraced “Empire” actor found guilty of felony disorderly conduct for staging a hate crime against himself, will be released from a Chicago jail on a promise to show up for appeals hearings, an Illinois court ruled on Wednesday.

In a 2-1 decision by the state’s First District Appellate Court on Wednesday, the judges ordered Smollett released from Cook County lockup after posting a “personal recognizance bond of $150,000.”

According to AP, this means he doesn’t actually have to put up any money, only promise to show up to court.

The actor and social justice activist had spent less than a week in jail. Smollett was sentenced last Thursday to 150 days behind bars, a $25,000 fine, 30 months of probation and $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago. A jury found him guilty in December on five out of six counts of felony disorderly conduct, for falsely claiming to have been a victim of a hate crime in January 2019.

After the sentencing, Smollett began yelling he was “not suicidal” and insisted on his innocence.

Read more

Actor Jussie Smollett is led out of the courtroom after being sentenced at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on March 10, 2022 in Chicago © Getty Images/Brian Cassella
Court sentences actor Jussie Smollett over fake hate crime

“If anything happens to me when I go in there, I didn’t do it to myself,” the actor said while being taken away.

Smollett’s lawyers argued that he would have completed the sentence by the time his appeal process was completed, and that he faced “physical harm” if he stayed in jail. The special prosecutor called this claim “factually incorrect.”

The actor, who is black and gay, attracted the spotlight three years ago, when he claimed two white men hurled racist and homophobic insults at him, shouted slogans in support of then-President Donald Trump, and even threw a noose over his head, on a freezing night in Chicago. 

While Democrats – including the current president and vice-president Joe Biden and Kamala Harris – overwhelmingly supported his claim, it quickly imploded under the weight of evidence that Smollett paid two Nigerian brothers $3,500 to stage the whole thing.