Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who stated he was afraid for his safety when he attacked two men with a knife during unrest in Kenosha (Wisconsin), has been found not guilty of all charges including attempted first degree intentional homicide and two counts each of first-degree recklessly endingangering safety.
Although their case was unsuccessful, the prosecution tried to convince jurors that Rittenhouse, a 17 year old, killed Joseph Rosenbaum (36), and Anthony Huber (26) without just cause. According to a state witness, Rosenbaum was called “hyperraggressive” by Rittenhouse who eventually chased him down trying to grab his AR-15. Rittenhouse then shot him. Huber was seen striking Rittenhouse on the neck using a skateboard and then trying to grab his gun. Gaige Grosskreutz (27) was the victim of Rittenhouse’s bicep shot. He testified that he approached Rittenhouse the next evening carrying a pistol, casting doubt on the assertions that Grosskreutz held his firearm in the air.
Rittenhouse was now 18, and he became the most prominent witness at his own defense when he testified in court last week. That was quite a unique move by a defendant. But it may have imperiled the prosecution, as Judge Bruce Schroeder admonished Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger for opening his questioning with a commentary on Rittenhouse’s post-arrest silence—Binger seemed to suggest that such silence was evidence of his guilt—and for attempting to show the jury evidence that Schroeder had already ruled was likely inadmissible. The judge testified to Binger last Wednesday, “I don’t know what your’re doing.” “I don’t believe you when you claim that you were acting in good will.”
A connection was drawn between Rittenhouse’s actions and Rittenhouse’s affection, which led to the prosecutor being harshly criticised. Duty CallRittenhouse was also being questioned on ammunition. The judge had to correct Rittenhouse while Rittenhouse stood. But a key nugget in his closing arguments was the most rebuked. “If you create the danger,” Binger stated, “you forfeit your right to self defense by bringing that weapon, aiming at people and threatening their lives.”
Clark Neily served as co-counsel and said that no matter how you feel about Rittenhouse’s actions, the statement made by Rittenhouse was legally incorrect. District of Columbia v. Heller(2008). The landmark Supreme Court ruling that recognized an individual’s right to bear and keep arms in self defense. “The right to arm yourself and to protect yourself—these are natural rights that are not GrantedThey’re not authorized by the government. GrantedBy the Constitution. These are rights we all have.”
Rittenhouse’s trial was an example of how polarized U.S. legal systems are. As the most vocal voices exchanged their roles and priors, Rittenhouse became a sort of upside-down microcosm. Cries to eschew due process and assign a lengthy prison term came from many on the criminal-justice-reform left, while the back-the-blue right zeroed in on prosecutorial overreach.
“Lock Kyle Rittenhouse up and toss the key,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D–N.Y.Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who is the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and has spent much of his life fighting mass incarceration. Judge Schroeder was also criticized for his biased rulings, which some called too pro-defendant. His decisions are consistent with his long career, and were not limited to Rittenhouse. Even more striking is the reputation of judges as prosecutors in robes. On the federal bench for example, four former prosecutors are for each former defense lawyer. Those concerned with criminal justice reform would typically laud a judge with a history like Schroeder’s—when considering the deference that judges often give to the prosecution.
This time conservative pundits were the ones who lashed out at the prosecutors. They portrayed Binger, especially as a corrupt agent of government with a thirst for blood and a desire punish Rittenhouse in order to appease social justice movement. They should continue to be skeptical of all prosecutors who have absolute immunity against misconduct and are not strangers to shady behaviour.
As for Rittenhouse, despite the considerable amount of punditry devoted to a binary narrative—that he was a hero or a murderer—Neily presents another option: “I think he exhibited very poor judgement in arming himself and then going into that environment with a very visible, modern rifle. Neily states that it is clear that some people perceive this as a provocative act. However, based on all the evidence, Neily believes he should be tried.
Evidently, the jury is in agreement.