Watch CBS News

Defense Attorney Says Jussie Smollett Will Appeal Conviction And Expects To Succeed

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A defense attorney for Jussie Smollett said Thursday that he plans to appeal Smollett's conviction, and he expects the appeal will succeed.

"We are confident in our appellate system," Uche said. "We're confident in our Illinois Supreme Court."

Uche emphasized that a security guard who testified for the defense corroborated everything Smollett said. He said Smollett was tried and convicted in the news media well before the trial happened.

"We feel 100 percent confident that this case will be won on appeal," Uche said.

As to what specific grounds for appeal he might have, Uche said, "I will be here for 10 hours if I started listing the grounds of appeal."

A jury of six men and six women deliberated more than nine hours over two days before finding Smollett guilty of five of six counts of disorderly conduct, accusing the actor of staging a fake racist and homophobic attack against himself in January 2019, and then lying to police about it, in a bid for publicity. Jurors found him not guilty of the sixth count of disorderly conduct.

Smollett, who is Black and gay, had told police he was attacked as he was walking home on Lower North Water Street around 2 a.m. on Jan. 29, 2019. He claimed two masked men – one of them also wearing a red hat – shouted racist and homophobic slurs as they beat him, put a noose around his neck, and poured a chemical on him. Police and prosecutors have said Smollett orchestrated it himself, paying two brothers – Abel and Ola Osundairo – $3,500 to help stage the attack.

Smollett said his attackers doused him in bleach and draped a rope resembling a noose around his neck. Abel and Ola Osundairo were initially detained – suspected of carrying out the attack on Smollett.

But in a turn of events, Smollett went from victim to suspect – charged with six counts of felony disorderly conduct for staging the attack and lying to police.

Attorney Nenye Uche said Smollett was innocent, and said it did not make sense for Smollett to be found guilty on five counts and not guilty on a sixth – given that the charges all stemmed from claims that he lied about one incident.

"A jury can't come out and say, 'Guilty of lying,' but, 'Not guilty of lying,'" Uche said. "It doesn't make sense."

CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller said an appeal is not likely to succeed – though the reasoning he suggested might come up was not something Uche mentioned.

"I don't think an appeal is going to be successful. There's an issue there as to whether or not he may have been deprived by due process rules in the United States Constitution for what Kim Foxx's office did way back when – that maybe would bar this second case," Miller said. "I don't think that's going anywhere. Judge Linn ruled it wasn't going anywhere, and I think this conviction will stand."

Two months after Smollett was first arrested, the disorderly conduct charges against him were dropped by the Cook County State's Attorney's office. State's Attorney Kim Foxx quickly came under criticism for her handling of the case.

A special prosecutor later was assigned to look into the entire case, after a judge found "unprecedented irregularities" in how Foxx handled the case, specifically by handing it over to her second-in-command after announcing she had recused herself.

In February 2020, a special Cook County grand jury returned a six-count indictment accusing Smollett of lying to Chicago Police. It was this indictment on which Smollett was tried.

Foxx's office released the following statement: "The Jury has spoken. While this case has garnered a lot of attention, we hope as a county we can move forward. At the Cook County State's Attorney's Office we will continue to focus on the important work of this office, prioritizing and prosecuting violent crime."

Of Smollett's reaction, Uche said: "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. He's holding up very strong."

Smollett himself did not comment as he left court.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.