EXPLAINER: Jussie Smollett’s turn to testify. Will he?

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After two brothers spent hours telling a jury how Jussie Smollett paid them to execute a fake racist and anti-gay attack on herself in downtown Chicago, the big question is when the actor’s trial reopens on Monday. If it starts then he will tell his side or not. Story.

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Attorneys rarely announce whether their clients will take a stand before calling them to testify, and Smollett’s attorneys have not made their plans public.

The reason Smollett wants to testify begins with how bizarre the case is. What came to the fore, during the trial that began last Monday, was the story of a television star who took two brothers as her attackers, gave them dialogue to talk to, and paid for the rope that she put them around her neck. I was asked to make a noose and loop.


As strange as it sounds, this is the only narrative that has come from the siblings on the jury, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo. And some legal experts say the only chance Smollett has on the beating charges is that he lied to police, telling jurors his version of what happened on January 29, 2019.

“Jurors may be thinking, ‘Who does this guy think he’s going to get up and tell his story,'” said Terry Eckel, a prominent Chicago-area defense attorney who was not involved in the case.

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Eckel and other legal experts said jurors should not read anything in a defendant’s decision not to testify, but they often do so when they return to the deliberation room.

As to the importance of a defendant’s testimony, legal experts said one need not look any further than the recent trial in Kenosha Wisconsin, where Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges because he testified that he Two men were fatally shot and the other was injured as he feared for his life.

“They won the case by employing him,” said Chicago-area defense attorney Kathleen Zellner. “The jury believed him.”

In Smollett’s case, it may have been important for them to testify, because as bizarre as the brothers’ testimony was, they are the only witnesses to the incident who have testified. And, said Chicago-based defense attorney, Joe Lopez, Smollett’s attorneys “have not been able to impeach these brothers.”

Nor have they traced a white man that a woman told police she had seen carrying a rope to the area earlier that night, leaving the brothers and Smollett as the only three men. happened.

“I think they just want to hear his story and if they don’t, they only have the story of the prosecution,” said David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at the Chicago Kent College of Law.

There’s another reason Smollett would want to testify: He has to be good at it.

“He’s an actor. He must testify,” Lopez said.

“He has the ability to communicate (and) feels he can take the stand of a witness and play the role,” Eckel said.

Erikson said that when he teaches advocating for trial, he makes it clear from the outset that jurors vote for the people they like. Right now, he said, he’s sure he likes the special prosecutor, Dan Webb. “Dan Webb is every man, he seems like a good man, a good neighbor.”

In contrast, they do not know Smollett, and have not heard his voice since introducing himself during jury selection.

But testifying could spell all kinds of problems for Smollett, starting with his need to explain how the brothers knew they’d run away with him on a brutally cold night in an unfamiliar neighborhood when he was a Returning from a sandwich shop. Until he told them that he would be there.

Plus, if he’s convicted, Smollett’s words could get him in more trouble.

Erikson said, “You can’t be punished (by a judge) for not testifying, but if he takes the stand and the judge thinks he’s wronged himself, he’ll face (jail or jail) time.” can add up.”

Erikson and Eckel both think Smollett will end up testifying, even if his attorney tells him not to.

“I guess you have a guy who’s so arrogant and self-centered, he really thinks he can make people believe what he says…[and]get the jury to like him. Likes him for,” Singles said.


Check out AP’s full coverage of the Jussie Smollett case.

Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Jussie Smollett

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