What Jussie Smollett's Legal Defense Might Look Like

Playing How Lawyers Could Build Their Case to Defend Jussie Smollett

How do you defend Jussie Smollett?

The case against the disgraced "Empire" actor may look open and shut, but it's not that simple, according to some legal experts. Inside Edition spoke to attorney Ben Brafman, who's known for representing many high-profile clients, including, at one point, Harvey Weinstein. 

"It does not look very good now for him, but who knows what the facts really are?" said Brafman.

Smollett is charged with one count of felony disorderly conduct in connection to allegedly staging an attack on himself in Chicago last month.

During a press conference Thursday, Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Smollett allegedly committed the crime "for personal gain" and added that he owes an "apology to the city he smeared."

Police claim the "Empire" star filed a false police report when he said he was attacked by two masked men who yelled racial and homophobic slurs at him before putting a noose around his neck in Chicago on Jan. 29.

Johnson said he believes the cuts and bruises on Smollett's face after the attack were self-inflicted.

"Smollett paid $3,500 to stage this attack and drag Chicago's reputation through the mud in the process," Johnson said. "And why? The stunt was orchestrated by Smollett because he was dissatisfied with his salary. So he concocted a story about being attacked."

But Brafman said lawyers looking to defend Smollett could turn the case around on Chicago Police and point to reported instances of racism and violence among the department.

"I think there are issues with the Chicago Police ... as a general proposition," Brafman said. "Whether or not [Chicago Police] are alleged to have treated people of color fairly, whether or not they are capable of doing an investigation without any difficult issues arising." 

"... I don't think this is a slam dunk for the prosecution," Brafman added. "Strong cases have ended in dismal failure in the past."

Smollett has repeatedly denied he was involved in any wrongdoing and maintained his innocence in media interviews and through his attorneys.

“Like any other citizen, Mr. Smollett enjoys the presumption of innocence, particularly when there has been an investigation like this one where information, both true and false, has been repeatedly leaked,” Smollett’s attorneys Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson said in a statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defense."

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