“There is no room for politics in our court system,” defense attorney Nenye Uche said in a news conference shortly after the actor’s release. “Regardless of what you think about this case… the real question is, should Black men be walked into jail for a Class 4 felony?”
“That’s a disgrace,” the attorney added. Uche, as well as other attorneys from the team who spoke Wednesday, criticized the judge who sentenced Smollett last week. Cook County Judge James Linn spoke to the actor for more than half an hour, criticizing his actions.
“The judge spent a great deal of time chastising, berating my client,” Uche said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Over the past six days in jail, Smollett did not eat anything besides ice water, Uche said.
Smollett’s defense filed the emergency motion last week, arguing he would be “irreparably harmed” if he serves a sentence for convictions that may be reversed, adding that he will likely serve his jail time before the completion of his appeal.
The attorneys added that exposure to Covid-19 is a serious risk because Smollett is immunocompromised.
The court granted the attorneys’ motion, reasoning that it would be “unable to dispose of the instant appeal before the defendant would have served his entire sentence of incarceration.”
In their response filed Wednesday, prosecutors vehemently disagreed with the defense’s reasoning, arguing that there is “no emergency that warrants the extraordinary relief” of delaying Smollett’s sentence while his appeal is pending.
“Mr. Smollett asserts that he is entitled to stay because he will most likely serve his short, 150-day jail sentence before his appeal on the merits is decided,” part of the response read. “According to this logic, every defendant sentenced to a term of imprisonment less than a few years would automatically receive a stay pending appeal.”
Smollett had an outburst in court last week
Smollett maintained his innocence under oath during his trial.
But during last week’s sentencing, Judge James Linn told Smollett, “You’re not a victim of a racial hate crime, you’re not a victim of a homophobic hate crime. You’re just a charlatan pretending to be a victim of a hate crime.”
The judge spoke for more than half an hour during the proceeding, telling the actor that while many people vouched for Smollett and his character and asked the judge for a lenient sentence, Smollett’s premeditation in the act he orchestrated was an “aggravating factor” in the Case.
“You do have quite a record of real community service,” the judge said Thursday. “I’m mindful of pleas of mercy, particularly from people that are in the arena.” But, ultimately, the judge said, this act showed Smollett’s “dark side.”
Following the announcement of his sentence, Smollett addressed the judge, saying “I did not do this,” before turning to the court and exclaiming he was not suicidal, and that “if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself. And you must all know that.”
On Friday, the actor was being housed “in his own cell, which is monitored by security cameras in the cell and by an officer wearing a body worn camera who is stationed at the entrance of the cell to ensure that Mr. Smollett is under direct observation at all times,” the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said, stressing that the actor was not being held in solitary confinement.
Attorney calls charges unconstitutional
Webb said last week he was “extraordinarily pleased” with the sentence Judge Linn handed down and that the judge’s comments showed “he clearly has understood… that this was a course of conduct that served severe punishment.”
But during Wednesday night’s news conference, Uche, one of Smollett’s attorney’s, called the proceedings in the unconstitutional case, as Smollett had already been charged before, had paid $10,000 and done community service.
“When this case was initially re-indicted, when this case was prosecuted, when this case was sentenced, at each of those steps I wondered to myself whether Chicago has ceded from the Union. Because in this country, you cannot punish a person twice ,” the attorney said. “While everyone was focused on the sensationalism surrounding this case, people were not focused on the constitutionality of the prosecution.”