Celebrity Lawyer Weighs in on Jussie Smollett’s Testimony
[Source: News Nation]
Celebrity Lawyer Christopher C. Melcher weighs in on Jussie Smollett’s testimony on News Nation
Reporter: You’ve represented high-profile clients in the past. Would you have advised Jussie Smollett to take the stand? Why or why not?
“Well, it’s a difficult choice. And he is charged with a crime, and he was able to watch the prosecution case laid out. The brothers testify against him that they were hired to stage this act. And had he not testified, he probably would be found guilty. And so it was really, probably very little choice, I would say, for him to come up there and explain how he knows these two individuals and come up with a story or an explanation for why they would have some motivation to do this and why this was not a hoax. So I think he had to do it to save himself,” explained family law expert Christopher C. Melcher.
Reporter: Based on your experience, what factors come into play when a celebrity is on trial? Does that change the dynamics at all?
“Well, I think anyone being on trial like this is going to have a hard time getting work. But certainly, a celebrity with this much exposure on the case, there’s nowhere to hide. And he is really fighting for his career, it’s not just his freedom, but to establish that this really happened to him. I don’t know that he’s going to be successful, but he has a lot at stake. And even if he loses and he’s convicted, I am sure he would maintain his innocence and say that he didn’t get a fair trial and would appeal it. So I think he needs to do this to preserve his reputation,” stated Christopher C. Melcher who is ranked one of the best family law attorneys in California.
Reporter: Jussie’s family members have talked to the media. In fact, we had his brother on last night. Is that something you would’ve recommended he do in this case?
“Well, I mean, I don’t know that the jury’s really going to see any of this. But certainly, we, the public, are watching all of this information. So it is important for him to get his message out there and try and shape opinion. But ultimately, what’s going to matter is what these jurors are going to think and who they’re going to find credible. And if somebody’s inclined to believe him, then they’re going to overlook a lot of inconsistent statements and evidence and to acquit him. But for me, listening to some parts of his story are just absolutely incredible,” said the celebrity divorce lawyer.
Reporter: Does representing a celebrity make your job harder or easier, would you say?
“Well, I think it is harder because of the public attention that’s around it and their career is at stake. They need to get ahead of this information. The standard advice by lawyers is to say nothing and wait for the case to go to trial, but that can take years. So it is important to get out ahead of the story, to express hopefully a truthful statement about what happened because public opinion is going to be shaped. And a lot of times, people don’t follow these cases to a conclusion and they’ve made up their minds already. So I think that’s the challenge when you’re representing a high-profile individual,” explained Christopher C. Melcher of Walzer Melcher LLP, which was ranked a band one best family law firm in California by Chambers & Partners.
Reporter: And to your point, there’s been a big impact to Smollett’s career already. What would be the impact of a guilty verdict? And what about if he’s found to be innocent?
“Well, the guilty verdict is going to confirm what a lot of people already believe. And so I don’t know that that’s going to change anything for his career trajectory. But if he is acquitted, that definitely is going to raise a lot of issues. Now, there is the standard of proof for a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. So somebody can in fact be guilty, but it just means that the prosecution didn’t prove the case to the satisfaction of the jury. So I would think that there’s going to be lingering doubts about his involvement in this, even if he’s acquitted,” stated Christopher C. Melcher.
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