Jussie Smollett is back on the streets again

Just five days after going to jail to begin his 150-day sentence, Jussie Smollett is a free man again.  Considering what's been happening in D.C. to people who, at most, trespassed, the whole Jussie saga has been disgusting, and this is one more chapter to irritate or even enrage those who believe in the rule of law.  However, much as I hate to say this, the appellate court that released him while his appeal is pending probably made the correct legal decision.

It was just last week that Jussie was sentenced to 150 days in jail for lying to the police about being the victim of a hate crime.  If I were the judge, I would have sentenced him for a much longer time, because Jussie himself committed a hate crime by falsely accusing Whites of engaging in violent racist acts.  I also would have increased Jussie's sentence for contempt of court after his theatrical outcries upon hearing his sentence read.  If it were I, Jussie would have spent at least a year in jail, but it wasn't I, so his sentence was a mere 150 days.

Because Jussie has money and powerful friends, he immediately appealed the decision.  On Wednesday, the appellate court ruled in his favor on the subject of his continued incarceration while the appeal is pending:

On Wednesday, the appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, said Smollett could be released after posting a personal recognizance bond of $150,000, meaning he doesn't have to put down money but agrees to come to court as required.

I know nobody wants to hear this, but the Court made the correct ruling, and that's because his attorney made the right argument:

Smollett's attorneys had argued that he would have completed the jail sentence by the time the appeal process was completed and that Smollett could be in danger of physical harm if he remained locked up in Cook County Jail.

The physical harm argument is probably just embroidery — although, thinking about it, if there is a true White supremacist contingent in the Cook County jail, those guys might not be feeling the love for Jussie.  Moreover, if Jussie is really scared and is put in solitary for his own protection, he's such a narcissistic prima donna that he really may have a mental breakdown just being out of the limelight.

Image: Jussie Smollett leaves jail.  YouTube screen grab.

The important legal argument is that Jussie's jail sentence will have run by the time his appeal is concluded.  While Jussie's sentence includes his staying on a 30-month felony probation, paying Chicago $120,106 in restitution, and paying a fine of $25,000, the real penalty from a constitutional point of view is that he is being deprived of his liberty.  (And again, this is what is so shameful about the way the January 6 defendants in D.C. are being held without bail or trial, a blatant violation of the Sixth Amendment's warning to government that all citizens have "the right to a speedy trial.")

The most significant part of Jussie's appeal will be mooted if the appellate process extends beyond 150 days.  While money is replaceable (that is, Chicago can return to him any restitution and fines he pays), Jussie's lost liberty is irreplaceable.  He can never recover those 150 days if the appellate court eventually concludes that his sentence should be overturned.

That a spoiled, vicious, racist, narcissistic actor should have the law applied correctly to him isn't wrong.  What is wrong is the people who do not have the "correct" political views being incarcerated in a gulag for over a year and so overcharged that they enter into terrible plea bargains to avoid even worse sentences.

Bad as it looks, what just happened to Jussie is how the law is supposed to work, while what's taking place in D.C. is how a broken, tyrannical country without the rule of law functions. 

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