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Jussie Smollett hires former Cook County prosecutor to lead defense team

The former “Empire” actor will continue to be represented by high-profile attorney Mark Gregaros’ Los Angeles-based law firm. But Nenye Uche said he filed paperwork in court to join Smollett’s defense team and work as the lead attorney.

Nenye Uche, a former Cook County prosecutor, has been hired as lead defense attorney for Jussie Smollett’s criminal case.
Nenye Uche, a former Cook County prosecutor, has been hired as lead defense attorney for Jussie Smollett’s criminal case.
Provided

A former Cook County prosecutor has been hired as Jussie Smollett’s lead defense attorney.

The former “Empire” actor will continue to be represented by high-profile attorney Mark Geragos’ Los Angeles-based law firm, lawyer Nenye Uche said Wednesday.

But Uche said he filed paperwork in court last month to join Smollett’s defense team and will be working as the lead attorney in the case.

Smollett is accused of filing a false police report in 2019, claiming he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack near his Streeterville home.

Chicago police said he staged the attack.

Uche, who left the state’s attorney’s office in 2012, is expected to appear at Smollett’s next scheduled court hearing on Friday.

Uche said he plans to use his experience as a former prosecutor to aid in Smollett’s defense.

“I think it helps to have an idea of how prosecutors look at evidence and at cases,” Uche told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Jussie Smollett takes a selfie with a supporter as he leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
In this file photo, Jussie Smollett takes a selfie with a supporter as he leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Uche said he is unfazed by Smollett’s celebrity and the ire of those who believe the actor should be held accountable if he’s convicted.

“I do not have any interest in whether or not Jussie is a celebrity,” Uche said. “I firmly believe in [Smollett’s] innocence.”

Uche said he doesn’t believe the case will be difficult to win either.

“From what I’ve seen of the evidence ... I’ve won multiple cases I think are more difficult than this,” he said. “It is rare that I’ve ever saw a false 911 case go to trial. These cases are usually dismissed.”

Chicago-based attorney Bill Quinlan, who has been involved with Smollett’s criminal defense, will focus on Smollett’s defense in a civil lawsuit filed by the city of Chicago to recoup expenses the Chicago police incurred investigating the actor’s claims of being attacked, Uche said.