After the judge allowed the defendant the opportunity to play a part in deciding his fate, 18 jurors heard testimony in the Kyle Rittenhouse jury trial. He is accused of killing two people and injuring another during an uprising in Kenosha. Wisconsin last year.
All 18 jurors’ numbers were written down on slips of paper and placed in a metal raffle tumbler. Judge Bruce Schroeder instructed Rittenhouse to select six slips from the tumblerThe jury was informed that the selected witnesses would be dismissed and that the remaining 12 would decide whether to accept the evidence that they heard during the trial.
Schroeder ordered the six jurors who were dismissed not to discuss the case or avoid media coverage about it. This was in the rare instance that one of the 12 jurors had to be removed. Two jurors have already been dismissed earlier in the trial — one for health reasons, and the other for making a tasteless joke about Jacob BlakeThe Kenosha police officer shot several times in the back a Black man. Rittenhouse was present at the uprising which followed the police-perpetrated shooting. He shot three demonstrators, of whom two he is accused.
Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, claims that he shot the three men — Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, the two that he killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz, who survived — out of self-defense.
It is a rare decision to allow Rittenhouse to participate in the selection of jurors. It is standard Wisconsin practice for a jury to include more than 12 people, and to be reduced to this number at the end. It is usually the judge, or a clerk who chooses at random which jurors will remain.
The 12-member jury began its deliberations on Tuesday. They have not reached a verdict on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m.
John P. Gross, the director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Public Defender Project, speaking to NBC News about the matter, said he’s only seen judges take part in the final jury selection process.
“It’s completely random, and whoever is picking is picking. It was an interesting piece of theater having the judge inviting the defendant to make the draw,” Gross said.
But to others, especially to a number of people on social media, Schroeder’s choice to allow Rittenhouse to seat his own jury drew questions and denunciations.
“It really doesn’t impact the jury that Rittenhouse was allowed to pick the names out of the hat. But the optics are terrible,” said Joe Lockhart, a political strategist CNN.
It’s “one more move by a Judge who is more interested in getting reelected than dispensing Justice,” Lockhart added.
Indeed, Schroeder has taken a number of actions and issued orders that seem beneficial to Rittenhouse’s defense strategy. This was at the beginning of the trial. The judge prohibited prosecutors to describe Rittenhouse shot men as “victims,” calling the term a “loaded” one that could bias the jury. At the same time, however, Schroeder allowed the defense to describe the three men as “looters,” “rioters,” and “arsonists,” in spite of the fact that they were never charged as such.
Rittenhouse was also spared by Schroeder’s illegal possession of a deadly weapons weapon charge Under the questionable justification that the Wisconsin statute was not clear to the judge.
The actions taken by Rittenhouse have been heavily criticized. They were criticized as being biased and uneven. Some observers believe Rittenhouse will be acquitted.
“Judge Bruce Schroeder’s atrocious handling of the #KyleRittenhouseTrial has done new and consequential damage to the tarnished image of Wisconsin’s judicial branch,” said John NicholsAssociate Editor, Madison, Wisconsin-based Capital Times.