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Jussie Smollett’s attorney calls his case ‘bogus’ as actor walks out of Chicago jail

A group of men wearing black leave a jail.
Actor Jussie Smollett, center, leaves the Cook County Jail on Wednesday.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)
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Jussie Smollett’s family and legal team are celebrating their “big win” that allowed the former “Empire” star to be released from jail Wednesday night after serving six days of his 150-day sentence for lying to police about orchestrating a racist and homophobic attack on himself.

In the latest twist in the dramatic, three-year case, an Illinois appellate court on Wednesday cut short Smollett’s jail time pending appeal. The 39-year-old actor walked out of the Cook County Jail in Chicago, where he had been housed immediately after a sensational sentencing hearing on March 10.

Smollett, who has maintained his innocence since the 2019 saga began and who asserted that he was “not suicidal” during a courthouse outburst last week, silently left the jail around 8 p.m. local time. His face was concealed by a surgical mask, and he was flanked by security and one of his brothers. He was holding what appeared to be the white dress shirt he was wearing in his mug shot.

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An appeals court has ordered that Jussie Smollett be released from jail during the appeal of his conviction on charges that he lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack.

March 16, 2022

After he got in an SUV and left the jail, members of his defense team remained to address the media. The Associated Press reported that his lawyers said Smollett was the target of a racist justice system and people playing politics.

Defense attorney Nenye Uche told the media that the actor drank only water while in jail and ate no food whatsoever, according to Deadline. Uche also said that Smollett “nearly lost hope in our constitutional system” and that he thinks his client “had nearly given up” while “put in a cage for a Class 4 felony.”

“My prayer is that he is freed and put on house arrest and probation,” said actor Taraji P. Henson, who starred opposite Jussie Smollett in “Empire.”

March 14, 2022

“We’ve been complaining about the disparate treatment of African Americans in the judicial system,” Uche said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Regardless of what you think about this case … the real question is, should Black men be walked into jail for a Class 4 felony? Shame on you if you think they should, that’s a disgrace.”

They had argued in court that his appeals litigation would exceed the time he was required to spend in jail and that he could be in danger of physical or mental harm if he remained locked up.

A group of men leave a jail.
Jussie Smollett, center, leaves the Cook County Jail on Wednesday.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)

He was placed under protective custody in jail, but his lawyers and family said he faced threats while behind bars — an issue Smollett alluded to during his sentencing outburst. (He would have been eligible for good-behavior credit and he could have been released as early as late May.)

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Uche also took to Smollett’s official Instagram account — where the actor’s family has been sharing updates about his case and rallying support for the #FreeJussie movement — to celebrate Wednesday’s victory.

“The basis of our appeal was very simple. We told the appellate court that pending the appeal, Jussie ought to be released, because — quite frankly, I’m going to put it in layman’s terms and not legal talk — the case sucks. The case is bogus against him,” Uche said in the video. “And they released him. And that says a lot about what the appellate court thinks about this case.”

Lawyers for former ‘Empire’ star Jussie Smollett filed a motion to suspend his 150-day jail sentence, saying his time in custody could put him at risk.

March 15, 2022

The appeals court said Smollett could be released after posting a personal recognizance bond of $150,000, meaning he didn’t have to put down money but agreed to come to court as required, AP reported.

A three-judge panel was split 2-1 over granting the motion Wednesday, according to the Tribune. The two judges voted in favor because Smollett had never been convicted of a violent offense and would have completed his jail sentence well before his appeal could be decided. In dissent, the third appeals judge wrote only that she would “deny this motion.”

Special prosecutor Dan Webb opposed Smollett’s release, writing in a motion that the actor relied “on half-truths and misleading statements, at best, to manufacture an alleged emergency” and win his release on bond.

‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett was sentenced to five months in jail for staging an attack on himself in 2019. This Q&A explains how we got here.

March 11, 2022

Smollett’s attorneys have said there are “serious constitutional issues” in his case and also asked the higher court to throw out Smollett’s December 2021 conviction, arguing that this second prosecution violated his double-jeopardy rights.

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Smollett was convicted on five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police about the alleged January 2019 attack and was acquitted on a sixth count.

“Now, we still have a long battle ahead of us. Everyone should please, please, please pray,” Uche told Smollett’s 4.4 million followers on Instagram. “We won Round 2. We want to win the remaining rounds and we need your help and support.”

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