The verdict comes after Cook County Judge Smolett was sentenced last week to 150 days in prison for five counts of disorderly conduct for lying to police. The appellate court said Smolett could be released after signing a $ 150,000 personal warranty fee, which does not require any payment.
WATCH: Juicy Smolett has been released from the Cook County Jail
The 39-year-old was released from jail after 8pm, passing by assembled journalists without saying a word to security and his two siblings. His defense panel praised the appeals court’s decision to release him, and one of his lawyers told ABC7 on Thursday that Smolett was still in Illinois and that his family and legal team planned to work on his appeal.
Not sure if Smolett will stay in Cook County or Chicago; Earlier, Judge James Lynn said he would be allowed to leave the state during a post-prison trial and check his probation officer remotely.
WATCH: Jesse Smolett’s defense attorneys speak after his release
Smolett’s family was relieved.
“Seeing a loved one go like this is unbearable for family members, and I am thankful to God for freeing him from that situation,” said JoJo, Smolet’s brother.
Smolett spent six nights in prison. At the time, the actor did not eat anything and only drank water, his lawyers said.
WATCH: The forensic examiner weighs in on how Juicy Smolett got out of jail
His lawyers said the actor broke down when he was given the news that he would be released.
“He put his hands on the glass and he had tears in his eyes, I never saw it because he was so strong there,” said lawyer Neni Uche. “I’m almost lost faith in our constitutional system,” he said.
Smolett’s attorneys argued that he would have completed his sentence by the end of the appeals process, and that Smolett would have suffered physical harm if he had been imprisoned in Cook County.
Smolett was sentenced to 30 months probation for lying to police about a hate crime attack against him in Chicago, and the first 150 days were in Cook County jail. He was released less than a week later.
“I think we came here because an appellate court felt it was right to do this. I hope everyone realized that the harassment in that court was absurd,” said attorney Shay Allen.
The court ruling marks the latest chapter in a bizarre story in which Smolet, a black and gay man who began in January 2019, complained to Chicago police that two ski masked men were victims of racist and homosexual assault. The hunt for the attackers soon turned into an investigation into Smolet and he was arrested on the charge that he had planned the attack and lied to the police about it.
During the investigation, it was revealed that Smolett had paid two people he knew from his work for the TV show “Empire” to carry out the attack.
An arbitral tribunal convicted Smolett in December of five counts of misconduct – a charge filed when a person lied to police. He was acquitted in the sixth case.
Watch: Legal analysis of Smolet’s release and appeal process
Judge Lynn Smolett sentenced him to 150 days in prison, and with good conduct he may have been released at 75. His lawyers argued that he would have completed his sentence by the time the appeal was decided.
“The Court of Appeals will take its time,” said ABC7 legal analyst Gil Sofer. “It will consider the summaries submitted in it and give a verdict on two things: first, should it change the sentence? And two, even if the sentence remains, is the sentence appropriate?”
Smolett was innocent during the trial. During the verdict, he warned the judge that he was innocent, that he had not committed suicide, that if he died in custody it would be someone else, and that he would not have taken his own life.
See | Juicy Smolett’s emotional outburst on the court
Cook County Judge James Lynn ordered Smolett to pay $ 120,106 in damages and a $ 25,000 fine to the city of Chicago.
Within minutes of learning that he was going straight to jail, Smolett yelled “I did not commit suicide!” And “I did not do this!” With a fist in the air when he was taken into custody and removed from the courtroom.
Lynn harassed Smolett before he was sentenced for what he called “misconduct and indecent acts.”
“I’m going to tell you, Mr. Smolet, I know I’m not going to do today the damage you have already done in your own life,” Lynn said.
In considering the sentence, Lynn cited Smolett’s “high” premeditated guilt as a bad factor. He said the actor had denigrated the experiences of victims of genuine hate crime and called him a “Charlton” and a liar.
“You came to the witness stand. You did not have to. You did. You certainly have the right. But you testified falsely for hours upon hours,” Lynn said.
See | Judge Lynn’s full sentence notes
After court, Smolett’s family openly expressed their disappointment at Smolet’s imprisonment and continued to defend his innocence.
“I saw my brother was a complete victim, he’s still there. He was beaten, he’s going to jail for being beaten now,” said his younger brother Jockey Smolett. “He was a survivor. He was completely mistreated. It must be stopped!”
Smolett’s defense attorneys were also outraged.
“I have never seen a lawyer in my entire life, and I have never seen a situation where any of the other lawyers here receive the same treatment for a Class 4 crime as a violent crime,” said defense attorney Neni Uche.
After a lengthy trial and several years in court, Smolett was convicted of five of the six offenses of disorderly conduct for lying to police. He faces a maximum of three years in prison on all charges.
“It’s unusual for a person with a very small number of crimes and a criminal record to face imprisonment for these crimes, but this is not a normal case,” said ABC legal analyst Gill Sofer.
See | Key moments in the case of Juicy Smolet
Sofer said if Smolet violates the terms of his release, he could go back to jail, but that is not possible.
Many big names came to Smolett’s defense and wrote letters apologizing to the judge.
Among them, Pastor Jesse Jackson wrote, “Juicy has a long record as a citizen with deep involvement and contribution” and “Juicy is already suffering.”
WATCH: Juicy Smolett’s lawyer says after the release in Illinois
Actor Samuel L. Jackson and his wife, actress Latanya Jackson, wrote a letter to the judge, part of which read, “I humbly request that you find an alternative to imprisonment.”
When asked by Cook County State Attorney Kim Fox’s office, he said, “We focus on violent crimes.”
In response to the Court of Appeal’s judgment, Jussie Smolett’s attorney, Nenye Uche, stated:
“We are delighted with the judgment of the Illinois District Court of Appeals.
“Three years ago, Jussie and the state of Illinois reached an adjourned trial agreement, in which he paid a fine of ten thousand dollars for community service. As a result, the case was dismissed.
“Being recharged and prosecuted for the same thing a second time is not only morally wrong, it is certainly double risk and unconstitutional. It is especially about an innocent man.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.
“Total coffee junkie. Tv ninja. Unapologetic problem solver. Beer expert.”