Jussie Smollett's lawyers file emergency motion to stay his sentence, as his sibling receives 'threatening phone calls'

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read

Three months after Jussie Smollett was convicted of lying to police about being the victim of a hate crime and four days after beginning his 150-day sentence at Cook County Jail in Illinois, the actor's legal team has filed an emergency motion in his case. They're asking the court to either stay his sentence or grant him bond.

In the document, filed March 11 and obtained by Yahoo Entertainment, Smollett's attorneys argue that "vicious threats" against him on social media indicate the violence that he "may experience during incarceration." However, they say that, if Smollett is put into what equates to solitary confinement, that could cause "extraordinary damage" to his mental health: "Any custodial setting poses a safety and health danger" to his life.

Jussie Smollett appears for his sentencing on March 10 at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. (Photo: Brian Cassella/Pool/Chicago Tribune)
Jussie Smollett appears for his sentencing on March 10 at the Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago. (Photo: Brian Cassella/Pool/Chicago Tribune)

The Cook's County Sheriff's Office previously clarified that Smollett was being held in "protective custody status," which means that he has his own cell which is monitored by cameras inside and by an officer stationed outside. "As with all detained persons, Mr. Smollett is entitled to have substantial time out of his cell in the common areas on the tier where he is housed, where he is able to use the telephone, watch television, and interact with staff," a spokesperson said. "During such times out of cell, other detainees will not be present in the common areas. These protocols are routinely used for individuals ordered into protective custody who may potentially be at risk of harm due to the nature of their charges, their profession, or their noteworthy status."

The motion also cites a medical doctor's opinion that Smollett has a compromised immune system and is at "serious health risk" if he contracts COVID-19 behind bars.

Meanwhile, his family has alleged that he is being improperly held in the "psych ward" at the facility. They reiterated Monday in the update from Smollett's legal team that "Jussie is strong and would never hurt himself."

They also disclosed that Jussie gave the phone number of an emergency contact, one of his siblings, when he began his incarceration Thursday, and that the owner of that number had received "threatening, harassing, racist and homophobic" calls in the days since.

Jussie Smollett, pictured in December 2018, was convicted in February of lying to police. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Jussie Smollett, pictured in December 2018, was convicted in February of lying to police. (Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Prosecutors have five days to respond to the Smollett team.

The former Empire actor was sentenced last week to 150 days in jail, 30 months of probation, a $120,000 payment in restitution to Chicago plus an additional $25,000 fine, after having been convicted on five felony counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports of a hate crime. In January 2019, Smollett, who is Black and gay, claimed that two men had attacked him while he was walking home in Chicago at 2 a.m. He said they had yelled racist and homophobic slurs as they put a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him.

Brothers Abimbola ("Bola") and Olabinjo ("Ola") Osundairo later told police that Smollett had paid them to $3,500 to fake the incident.

Smollett has maintained his innocence, including when he left the courtroom after his sentencing.