Memphis native represents ‘Empire’ actor Jussie Smollett in high-profile case – FOX13 News Memphis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – For the past three years, actor Jussie Smollett has been in the spotlight, but not for what he’s known to be famous for.
The actor, best known for his recurring role on the hit TV series “Empire,” fought hard for his freedom.
The fight began in February 2019 after the actor was indicted by a grand jury with a Class 4 felony for filing a false police report.
He now has a team of lawyers representing him in hopes of successfully defending his innocence.
One of its current legal team members is from Memphis, attorney Tamara Walker.
Walker is a proud graduate of Saint Mary’s Episcopal School and White Station High School, both in Memphis. She now resides in Chicago and tells FOX13 that she knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career in law.
“I knew that since I was about 12,” Walker said, “watching LA Law and seeing the character that Blair Underwood played, seeing a black lawyer who was powerful.”
She got her feet wet in high school, joining the mock trial team at White Station. From there she went to Emory University in Atlanta, where she majored in political science, and then to South Bend, Indiana, to Notre Dame Law School.
Walker’s mother, Jacqueline Walker, said even in high school, her daughter was still serious about her legal pursuits.
“With everything she did, she wrote about it in compositions; she went to court with her grandfather to observe the cases,” her mother said. Walker also led his mock trial team at Notre Dame to a national championship.
“I was the first black woman to make the national championship team, at that time it was the 25th year of the competition,” Walker said.
Now she is keeping a close eye on her ongoing high-profile case and the fate of her client.
After six days behind bars on a 150-day sentence, Smollett was recently released from prison pending an appeal. Now, the actor and his legal team are patiently awaiting a final decision. The timing of this decision is unclear.
“Mr. Smollett’s case is a class 4 felony, lowest level,” Walker said, “that’s one level above misdemeanor, so for him to receive a 5 month prison sentence, very unusual; in my 21 years of practice, I have never seen it,” the lawyer said.
In what appeared to be a precautionary measure, Smollett shouted during his sentencing that he was not suicidal. He went on to say that if anything happened to him, he didn’t.
“We advised him not to talk; however, when you’re in a time in life that you never imagined, and all sorts of things go through your mind, I guess. Walker said: “It’s unfortunate at a time like this, his mind went to Sandra Bland, his mind went to, because he’s a very high profile person, Jefferey Epstein.”
Walker told FOX13 his client is mentally strong and his family is thrilled with his recent release from prison.
She said that despite the allegations against the actor, the legal team stands by his testimony.
“We absolutely maintain Mr. Smollett’s innocence as he has throughout this 3-year process, and we look forward to the current legal issues being effectively relegated, as opposed to his trial in court in public opinion, what happened. too much so far,” Walker said.
Meanwhile, what was once just a childhood dream is now a reality for the Memphis native. Lawyer Walker is now on the career path she always wanted, and as she continues to live out her mission to fight for the rights of others, she leaves these words of encouragement.
“Anything is possible if you follow your dreams and work hard,” she said, “you have to stay open, you can’t be closed-minded; I always felt that I could pursue my dreams in an unlimited way.
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