Jussie Smollett’s attorney ‘respectfully disagrees’ with verdict, plans to file appeal

A Chicago jury deliberated for over nine hours before returning the Smollett verdict: guilty of five out of six counts.

Jussie Smollett was found guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct by a Cook County jury for making false reports claiming he was the victim of a hate crime near his Chicago home in January 2019. 

After a bombshell trial in which Smollett testified in his own defense, the jury deliberated for more than nine hours before returning the verdict on Thursday. 

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett arrives at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building to hear the verdict in his trial Thursday in Chicago, Illinois. Smollett was found guilty in five of the six counts against him. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Nenye Uche, Smollett’s attorney, told CNN he “respectfully disagrees” with the verdict and plans to file an appeal in the case. 

“He [Smollett] is 100% confident that this will be reversed on appeal,” Uche said. “At the end of the day, we believe justice will prevail. We don’t believe it was done today, but we’re very confident that he will be cleared, and he will be found to be innocent.”

The attorney said his client is disappointed, but that his team is still confident in Smollett’s innocence and will continue to pursue a “fair result.” 

Smollett’s conviction of disorderly conduct for a false crime report is punishable by up to three years in Illinois as a Class 4 felony. However, legal experts have asserted that, with no prior criminal record, the former Empire star is likely to face a much lighter sentence — including the possibility of probation. No sentencing date has yet been scheduled.

The trial and Smollett’s testimony had other bombshell moments. 

At one point, the actor asked prosecutor Dan Webb to stop using the entire “N-word” when reading his text messages. 

“Can you spell or say the N-word out of respect for every African American in this room?” Smollett said from the witness stand, per TMZ. “You’ve been saying that word a lot.” Webb deferred to Smollett, asking that the actor instead read the messages.

Webb told the jury during closing arguments on Wednesday that Smollett “monkeyed around” with the rope that allegedly had been tied around his neck in the now-infamous attack in late January 2019.

Webb’s use of this phrase — widely interpreted as racially insensitive — earned him groans from members of Smollett’s family who were in the courtroom, according to TMZ. The site reports that several of them shook their heads in disgust.

As previously reported, the 39-year-old actor has been accused of staging the January 2019 attack, which, given his celebrity, was a high-profile incident. Smollett said his assailants assaulted him, tied a noose around his neck and poured bleach on him. He also said he was called racial epithets and gay slurs.

Brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo testified that Smollett paid and directed them to stage the hoax for publicity.

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