Following Jussie Smollett’s arrest Thursday on charges of disorderly conduct and filing a false police report due to claims he staged his well-publicized attack as a publicity stunt, the “Empire” star’s high-powered legal team is coming out swinging.
According to a statement obtained by CBS Chicago reporter Charlie Del Mar, the 36-year-old actor’s attorneys are already fulfilling their earlier promise to “mount a vigorous defence.”
In fact, Smollett’s lawyers — led by defence attorney Mark Geragos, who has defended such celebrity clients as Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder — are blasting the Chicago Police Department for what they characterize as a rush to judgement that is denying their client due process.
“Today we witnessed an organized law enforcement spectacle that has no place in the American legal system,” the lawyers’ statement begins.
“The presumption of innocence, a bedrock in the search for justice, was trampled upon at the expense of Mr. Smollett and notably, on the eve of a Mayoral election,” the statement continues.
“Mr. Smollett is a young man of impeccable character and integrity,” the statement concludes, “who fiercely and solemnly maintains his innocence and feels betrayed by a system that apparently wants to skip due process and proceed directly to sentencing.”
“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 lawyers, Todd Pugh and Victor Henderson, said in a previous statement. “Given these circumstances, we intend to conduct a thorough investigation and to mount an aggressive defence.”
Smollett is is currently free on $100,000 bail; his next court date is set for March 14.