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Jussie Smollett Trial: Will He Take The Stand To Try To Sway Jury?

Former "Empire" star Jussie Smollett may be forced to testify if he has any hope of swaying the jury, legal experts say.

As the trial of disgraced former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett continues, legal experts are saying that he may be forced to testify if he has any hope of convincing a jury that he didn’t stage a hate crime against himself. 

Legal Experts Weigh In

Some legal experts think that the only chance Smollett has of making the jury see things his way is to get up on the stand and tell them his version of events himself. 

“The jurors might be thinking, ‘Who does this guy think he is, not getting up and telling his story?'” prominent defense attorney Terry Ekl told Fox News

Smollett claims that in January of 2019, he was jumped by two men who hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him while also shouting “this is MAGA country!”

However, police believe that Smollett staged the hate crime and paid two brothers to attack him in the hopes of getting a larger salary for himself on “Empire.”

Related: Chicago Cop Destroys Jussie Smollett On The Stand – ‘Alleged Hate Crime Was Actually A Staged Event’

Kathleen Zellner, a Chicago-area defense attorney, pointed out that Kyle Rittenhouse was recently found innocent in Kenosha, Wisconsin after he testified that he fatally shot two men and wounded a third because he thought his own life was in danger.

“They won the case by putting him on,” Zellner said. “The jury believed him.”

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

Smollett May Be Good At Testifying

Chicago-based defense attorney Joe Lopez said that another reason Smollett should testify is that he may be good at it. 

“He’s an actor. He should be testifying,” Lopez stated, with Ekl adding, “He has the ability to communicate (and) he thinks he can take the witness stand and play a role.”

However, Smollett testifying could backfire on him, particularly if he is convicted. 

“You can’t be penalized (by a judge) for not testifying but if he takes the stand and the judge believes he perjured himself, he can add (jail or prison) time,” Erickson explained.

Related: Jussie Smollett Trial: Legal Experts Say He Will Likely Be Found Guilty

Experts Believe Smollett Will Testify

Erickson and Ekl each believe that Smollett will ultimately testify, even if his attorneys advise him not to do so.

“I think you’ve got a guy who is so arrogant and self-centered, he really thinks he can make people believe what he says is true … (and) schmooze a jury to get them to like him,” Ekl concluded.

Given how full of himself that he has shown himself to be, it’s hard to believe that Smollett will be able to resist taking the stand. It remains to be seen how that will play out for him. 

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