CHICAGO – Jussie Smollett is “100 percent confident” he will be cleared by an appeals court on charges he staged a hate crime, his attorney proclaimed Thursday.
The comments came shortly after a city criminal court jury delivered a guilty verdict against the ex-“Empire” actor, who had claimed he was attacked in 2019 by two Donald Trump supporters who tied a noose around his neck and splashed bleach on him while hurling racist and anti-gay slurs.
“So we feel 100 percent confident that this case will be won on appeal,” Nenye Uche, lead attorney for the defense, said. “Unfortunately, that’s not the route we wanted but sometimes that’s the route you have to take to win, especially a case where we remain 100 percent confident in our client’s innocence.”
Smollett was found guilty on five of six felony charges of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report.
“He’s a human being, he’s disappointed — but I will tell you this I am very proud of him, I’m very, very proud of him,” Uche said. “He’s holding up very strong he’s committed to clearing his name and he’s 100 percent confident that he’s going to get cleared by the appellate court.”
Smollett, 39, was accused of staging the Jan. 25, 2019 attack at the hands of brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo to garner attention amid heightened racial tensions in the country. Smollett, who is black and openly gay, contended he was a real victim of a hate crime.
Prosecutors said Smollett paid the brothers $3,500 for the attack and even did a dry run ahead of the faked incident with the brothers, who had known the actor for more than a year before the incident.
The defense tried to poke holes in the brothers’ credibility and Smollett testified he had paid $3,500 to Abimbola for personal training services. On the night of the attack, Smollett sent four texts about a delayed flight to Abimbola but the actor testified it was not to coordinate the attack but because the two planned to work out together.
Uche called Smollett’s conviction inconsistent because he was found not guilty on one of the six counts against him, stemming from allegedly lying to police in a second interview in February 2019 — weeks after his initial complaint.
“Jussie was not accused of doing two different things and he was accused of doing one thing, and charged multiple times for the same incident, a jury cannot come out and say guilty of lying, but not guilty of lying,” Uche said. “It doesn’t make sense. He lamented the scrutiny on the case from its start and how it may have affected the outcome.
“From the first day of this case, his case has been prejudged, his case has been tried in the media, and it’s unfortunate, this is the United States of America,” Uche said. “We live in a constitutional democracy where everyone is presumed innocent but obviously, if we’re being honest, that hasn’t been the case.”
“But we are confident in our appellate system, we’re confident in our Illinois Supreme Court and we’re confident that at the end of the day, what’s out there in the news media, and in the gossip forums are not going to stand a chance in court.”