Jussie Smollett’s legal team has petitioned for a new trial or a modified verdict in his alleged hate crime hoax case. According to the Washington Examiner, Smollett’s attorneys are claiming various pre-trial errors and maintaining that the court violated Smollett’s Sixth Amendment rights by refusing to allow the defense team to ask questions, which the judge said was required because of the high profile nature of the case.
Smollett’s attorney, Mark Lewis, said, “The State failed to prove the Defendant guilty of the charges against him beyond all reasonable doubt and failed to prove every material allegation of the indictment beyond all reasonable doubt. As such, the Defendant now respectfully requests that his convictions be vacated or in the alternative, that the Court grant the Defendant a new trial.”
Defense attorneys for Smollett contend that the trial judge made the wrong choice by dismissing possible jurors based on their race and that the trial was not genuinely “public” because journalists and members of the public were not permitted in the courthouse because of the pandemic.
The jury heard from 14 witnesses over the course of six days. Police and prosecutors claim Smollett paid for and staged the attack after police failed to act on a hate-filled letter he allegedly received before the incident. Smollett received the letter at the studio where Empire was being shot and Smollett reportedly planned to utilize the attack’s video footage for publicity, however, the event was not recorded.
Smollett’s sentencing is set for March 10, with each offense having a maximum term of three years in prison, potentially putting him behind bars for a total of 15 years.