R. Kelly Legal Strategy Shows the Difference a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Make
The legal saga surrounding R&B singer R. Kelly has been going on for years, but for those sure it would never end, news of closure has finally arrived. As newspapers around the country noted last week, a jury took less than one day to return a verdict of not guilty on all fourteen counts of producing child pornography, stemming from a video released that showed Kelly engaging in sexual acts with a girl who appeared to be underage at the time, possibly as young as 13 years old.
While Kelly has managed to evade going to trial several times over the six years since the Chicago Sun-Times was sent a copy of the video used in evidence against Kelly, the result of this trial confirmed the strategy used by his defense lawyers. While criminal defense attorney Edward Genson could have moved for a mistrial when prosecutors admitted that a DVD copy of the infamous video was slightly different than the original when earlier they had claimed it was not, he chose to proceed instead, confident that their case was moving forward in a positive manner.
Genson’s defense was built on his belief that the identity of the girl in the videotape could not be definitively proven from seeing it. The alleged victim and her parents have denied that the girl on the tape is her, while Kelly has also denied that he is the man in the video. Yet more than fifteen witnesses positively identified the girl, and ten positively identified Kelly.
Despite this, Genson and his associates were able to plant the seed of doubt in the minds of the jury members, allowing them to judge with their own eyes whether or not the tape portrayed Kelly and the girl in question. The jury deliberated, and agreed that despite the testimony identifying the two, it was not possible to be completely sure of their identities.
One crucial element to the case that likely had an impact on the jury decision was Judge Vincent Gaughan’s ruling that the jury be barred from learning of Kelly’s history with younger women. This past includes settlements he made with three underage girls for allegations of sexual misconduct, as well as his secret marriage to R&B singer Aaliyah when she was only 15.
Kelly’s other lawyers worked hard to find approaches that led to Kelly’s acquittal as well, including the pop culture references and courtroom antics of Sam Adam Jr., whose father, Sam Adam Sr., also worked as a defense lawyer on Kelly’s team. Adam Jr. made reference to Gary Coleman, the Wayans Brothers’ film White Chicks, TV’s “The Office” as well as Hannah Montana. It’s an unconventional approach, but Adam Jr. believed that it gave him a way to relate to members of the jury that other lawyers didn’t have.
However, it’s clear from the outcome that not just style but substance gave Kelly his freedom. Led by Edward Genson, Kelly’s team of lawyers expertly cast doubt on the testimony of the witnesses on the stand, making sure that no member of the jury could consciously convict without being 100% sure of Kelly’s guilt. And when they couldn’t reach that level of certainty, they took the only legal course they could and acquitted.