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Lawyers for Jussie Smollett file emergency motion seeking release from prison – NBC Chicago

Lawyers for Jussie Smollett officially launched the ‘Empire’ actor’s sentencing appeal process on Friday as they moved to secure his release from Cook County Jail while the appeal is pending.

Members of Smollett’s legal team spent most of Friday at the Illinois First District Court of Appeals in downtown Chicago, where they filed an emergency injunction seeking Smollett’s release. An appeals court judge ruled that prosecutors had five days to respond to the emergency motion.

Also Friday, as expected, the actor’s defense attorneys filed a notice of appeal in Cook County Criminal Court.

A day earlier, a judge sentenced Smollett to 150 days in the Cook County Jail following his conviction for lying to police about being the victim of a hoax hate crime in 2019. Smollett was also sentenced to 30 months probation for a felony, ordered to pay more than $120,000 in restitution to the city of Chicago, and was fined $25,000.

He began his sentence immediately after learning of his fate on Thursday.

The criminal case made international headlines when Smollett, who is black and gay, reported to police that two men wearing ski masks beat him and hurled racial and homophobic slurs at him in a dark street from Chicago and fled.

In December, Smollett was found guilty in a trial that included testimony from two brothers who told jurors that Smollett paid them to carry out the attack, gave them money for ski masks and rope, asked them to shape the rope into a slipknot. Prosecutors said he told them what racist and homophobic slurs to yell and yell that Smollett was in “MAGA Country,” a reference to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign slogan.

In his ruling, Judge James B. Linn said the “extreme premeditation” of the incident was an aggravating factor in the case. He also said he believed Smollett orchestrated the attack to a rigorous degree, rehearsing it at length.

“You have turned your life upside down,” Linn said. “You have destroyed your life as you know it. There is nothing I can do to you today that comes close to the damage you have done to your own life.”

During his sentencing, Smollett was permitted to make a statement, but chose not to on the advice of an attorney, citing a potential appeal in the case.

But right after Linn read the sentence, Smollett addressed the court and again denied any wrongdoing in the case.

“If I did that, it means I stuck my fist into the fears of black Americans in this country for over 400 years and the fears of the LGBT community,” Smollett said, rising to the table from defense as his attorneys and sheriff “Your Honor, I respect you and I respect the jury but I didn’t do this. And I’m not suicidal. And if anything happens to me when I walk in in there, I didn’t do it to myself.” And you all should know that.

As deputies led Smollett out of the courtroom, he repeatedly shouted that he was innocent and not suicidal.

As Jussie Smollett learned of his fate in court, the actor stormed into the courtroom, shouting “I’m not suicidal” and continuing to maintain his innocence.

Heather Widell, one of Smollett’s defense attorneys, said the time Linn spent addressing her client during sentencing was surprising, given that it was not a case of murder.

While the actor remains in prison, the plan is to have a member of his defense team visit him daily.

“He’s strong,” Widell said. “We want to make sure he has the full support of the team and the family.”