UPDATE, 6:41 PM: Jussie Smollett is officially out of jail.
Following the decision earlier today, by an Illinois Appellate Court to cut short the former Empire star’s 150-day sentence pending appeal, Smollett walked out of Cook County Jail at around 8 PM local time.
Surrounded by members of his defense team, family and other supporters, Smollett was silent as he exited the Chicago facility. Defense attorney Nenye Uche told the assembled media that his client only drank water over the past 6 days and ate no food whatsoever.
A one-page order unceremoniously released by the Illinois Appellate Court today in a 2-1 decision granted the motion from the former Empire actor’s lawyers for a stay of the sentence. Denied an appeal by the sentencing judge last week, the defense team sought to set Smollett free while his appeal on five felony convictions is pending.
The Appellate Court judge agreed, citing that Smollett likely already would have served his jail time sentence before his appeal had gotten very far. The order also noted that the actor had never been convicted of a violent crime. In fact, the paperwork’s only real demand was that Smollett put up a $150,000 personal recognizance bond.
The process around that bond and Smollett walking out a free man for now is taking place, I hear.
Convicted on December 9, 2020 over the widely covered January 2019 so-called MAGA attack, Smollett was sentenced to 150 days in jail on March 10 as part of an overall sentence of 30 months probation. That sentence also included $120,106 in restitution to the Windy City for cops’ overtime spent on his initial case and a further $25,000 fine.
Last week, just before being led away by deputies after a visibly angered Judge James Linn handed down the sentence, Smollett stood up at the defense table and yelled, “I am not suicidal!”
“If anything happens to me in there, I did not do it,” the actor continued. As he was being escorted out of the courtroom, Smollett raised his fist in the air and loudly declared: “I am not suicidal, I am innocent!”
As sibling Jurnee Smollett, Empire co-star Taraji P. Henson and others plead for the actor to be released, he was placed in protective custody. Under armed-guard surveillance and cameras, Smollett later was moved to the psychiatric ward, as revealed by his brother on social media.
Unsurprisingly, special prosecutor Daniel Webb unsuccessfully opposed the move to free Smollett.
“Not only is Smollett not being held in solitary confinement, but the Cook County sheriff’s office made public the specific measures that are being taken to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of Mr. Smollett while he serves his jail term,” the former Iran Contra lawyer told the court today, in reference to the relatively benign conditions under which the actor was incarcerated.
Now, there’ll be more courtroom drama in this sad saga.