“While everyone was focused on the excitement surrounding this case, people weren’t focused on the constitutionality of the prosecution,” O’Shea said.
Smollett’s original charges were dropped about a month after he was accused by Chicago police of masterminding the hoax – only to be taken up again by the new attorney general assigned to the case in August 2019. Last December, Smollett was convicted of five counts of disorderly conduct offenses. .
Best known for his on-screen work on the TV series “Empire” and his childhood role in “Mighty Ducks,” Smollett – who is black and gay – claimed that two masked men attacked him in January 2019. He said they shouted racist and anti-gay slurs while hitting him, pouring bleach on him, And put a noose around his neck.
Investigators said his story soon began to unravel. Accused of filing a false police report, he initially faced 16 counts of disorderly conduct.
last week, Cook County Judge James Lane has ordered the actor to pay more than $120,000 in damages to the city of Chicago — plus a $25,000 fine — and serve 30 months on probation and 150 days in prison. Before sentencing, Lynn delivered a scathing reprimand, accusing Smollett—who has maintained his innocence—of “throwing a patriotic pity party for yourself.”
“You turned your life upside down because of misconduct and deceit,” Lynn said. “You ruined your life as I knew it. You wanted attention and you were so invested in social justice issues, you knew this was a sore place for everyone in this country.”
Smollett’s time behind bars proved short-lived.
On Wednesday, the Illinois Court of Appeals ordered a stay of Smollett’s prison sentence, pending an appeal against his sentence. The actor was asked to make a personal pledge of $150,000 – which means he doesn’t have to deposit the money, but instead agrees to appear in court as required.
according to Court documentsthe order was granted because “the defendant has been convicted of nonviolent crimes” and the court “will not be able to decide on an immediate appeal before the defendant has served his full prison sentence.”
At about 8 p.m., Smollett – in a black T-shirt and mask – emerged from the Cook County Jail surrounded by security. When the cameras clicked and reporters fired questions, the actor got into a gray car waiting for him without speaking.
Although there was no response from Smollett, Uche said the actor became emotional when he learned he was going to be released. The defense attorney said the first thing he did was shove his hands on the glass between them – A sign of relief after Smollett “was about to surrender” to the justice system.
“We are happy to put aside the excitement and politics and can finally have an intellectual discussion about our laws with the esteemed Court of Appeals,” O’Shea told The Washington Post in a statement.