“While everyone was focused on the sensationalism surrounding this case, people were not focused on the constitutionality of the prosecution,” Uche said.
Smollett’s original charges were dropped almost one month after Chicago police accused him of orchestrating the hoax — only to be taken up again by a new prosecutor assigned to the case in August 2019. This past December, Smollett was convicted on five felony counts of disorderly conduct .
Known for his on-screen work on the television series “Empire” and his childhood role in the “Mighty Ducks” film, Smollett — who is Black and gay — claimed two masked men attacked him in January 2019. He said they shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, poured bleach on him and put a noose around his neck.
His story, however, quickly began to fall apart, detectives said. Accused of filing a false police report, he initially faced 16 disorderly conduct charges.
last week, Cook County Judge James Linn ordered the actor to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago — plus a $25,000 fine — and to serve 30 months of probation and 150 days in jail. Before rendering his sentence, Linn delivered a scathing rebuke, accusing Smollett — who has maintained his innocence — of “throwing a national pity party for yourself.”
“You’ve turned your life upside down by your misconduct and shenanigans,” Linn said. “You’ve destroyed your life as you knew it. You wanted to get the attention and you were so invested in issues of social justice, and you knew this was a sore spot for everybody in this country.”
Smollett’s stint behind bars would prove to be short-lived.
On Wednesday, the Illinois Appellate Court ordered a stay on Smollett’s jail term, pending the appeal of his sentence. The actor was required to post a personal recognition bond of $150,000 — which means he does not have to put down money, but instead agrees to appear in court as required.
According to court documents, the order was granted because “the defendant has been convicted on non-violent offences” and the court “will be unable to dispose of the instant appeal before the defendant would have served his entire sentence of incarceration.”
Around 8 pm, Smollett—wearing a black T-shirt and a mask—walked out of Cook County Jail surrounded by security. As cameras clicked and reporters shouted questions, the actor got inside an awaiting gray van without speaking.
Despite the lack of a response from Smollett, Uche said the actor became emotional when he learned he would be released. The first thing he did, the defense attorney said, was push his hands on the glass between them — a sign of relief after Smollett “had nearly given up” on the justice system.
“We are pleased that sensationalism and politics will be put aside and we can finally have an intellectual discussion about our laws with our esteemed appellate court,” Uche told The Washington Post in a statement.