On Thursday, a Chicago jury found Jussie Smollett guilty of staging a hate crime against himself. With up to three years in prison looming, Nenye Uche, Smollett’s attorney, hopes to appeal the guilty verdict.
“We are confident in our appellate system," Uche said. "We are 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."
CNN legal analyst Laura Coates argued allowing Smollett to take the stand was a grave “miscalculation”, potentially damaging his chances of appealing the verdict. “So him taking the stand lead to his exposure,” Coates said. "A judge is now looking at you, taking everything you had to say and assessing it."
Smollett alleged he was the victim of a racist hate crime in January 2019. Before the guilty verdict, the assailants, Ola and Bola Osundairo, told a contrasting narrative. The brothers claimed Smollett hired them, providing $3,500 in return for their participation in a staged attack. The night before the attack, video surveillance footage captured the Empire star driving around downtown Chicago with the brothers.
Smollett took the stand, conceding that he did, in fact, know both the brothers, but that the accusations were false. He contended the money was given for a meal and workout plan. Smollett also alleged he had a sexual relationship with one of the brothers. He said the three were smoking weed and cruising the streets of downtown Chicago the night before.
According to the defense, the actor failed to recognize the masked men during the purported hate crime. After hurling racist and homophobic slurs at Smollett, the brothers allegedly poured bleach on him and wrapped a noose around his neck.
On Thursday, the Chicago jury found Smollett guilty on five counts of disorderly conduct. The Chicago police department reportedly devoted 1,836 hours of overtime to the case. As a result, the City of Chicago aims to extract compensation from Smollett. In a statement to Forbes, city officials said they hope to “hold Smollett accountable” and gain an estimated $130,000 from the lawsuit.