The judge presiding over the case against Kyle Rittenhouse criticized on Wednesday misinformation and the media for the “grossly irresponsible handling of what comes out of this trial,” as jurors deliberate a verdict.
“Some of the other misinformation about the case … is widespread, and you gentlemen are aware of it as I am,” Judge Bruce Schroeder said while speaking with the defense and prosecution.
Schroeder first touched on a report from the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal that included commentary from several law professors speculating why Schroeder had not yet responded to the defense’s motion to dismiss with prejudice. Rittenhouse’s defense filed the motion Monday alleging the prosecution deliberately withheld high-quality drone footage of one of the key moments of the shooting. Schroeder had not responded to the motion, per the report, leading several professors to tell the outlet it was “odd,” and unusual.
“I didn’t rule on the motion to dismiss, I haven’t even had a chance to read the motion, I just got it yesterday,” Schroeder said. “I really think before I rule on a motion I should let the state respond. So why anyone would think it’s ‘odd’ for the judge to sit on a motion to dismiss, I have no idea.”
“I’m somewhat astounded, as it gets out into the general public, and I spoke about it on the first day of trial, the result of the trial should be open to public scrutiny and people should have confidence in the outcome of the trial … It’s just a shame that irresponsible statements are being made,” Schroeder continued.
Schroeder then went on to discuss the “business about people not being identified as ‘victims’.”
“How would you like to be put on trial for a crime and the judge introduced the case to the jury by introducing you as the defendant and the person who is accusing you as the ‘victim’. And then throughout the trial, have all the references to the complaining witness as being the ‘victim’. Is that so difficult to just use the term ‘complaining witness’, instead of pre-judging what the jury is here to determine, whether there is a victim and whether there was a crime committed?”
Schroeder ruled in October prosecutors could not refer to the three men Rittenhouse shot as “victims” in a pre-trial victory for the defense, saying the term is a “loaded, loaded word,” according to ABC 7. He had previously criticized the media for their “totally bizarre” coverage of the trial, appearing to reference media criticism over his decision on the term “victims.”
“Finally, and I am now reading about how bizarre and unusual it was to have the defendant pick the numbers out of the tumbler yesterday,” Schroeder added, noting he began the practice following a case roughly 20 years ago during which he believed it’s best for defendants to pick the numbers so that they feel in control, and that he’s never had a complaint about it before but that some are dissatisfied with the procedure and “want to undermine the result of the trial.”
“I think it’s shameful, some of the things that are being done to [these five attorneys] and when I talked about problems with the media, when this trial started, we’re there in part … because of grossly irresponsible handling of what comes out of this trial,” Schroeder said. “I will tell you this, I’m going to think long and hard about live television in a trial again, next time, I don’t know. I’ve always been a firm believer in it because I think people should see what’s going on but what’s being done is really quite frightening.”