The judge in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse repeatedly admonished the prosecution on Wednesday – at one point yelling at the lead prosecutor – for risking a “grave constitutional violation” during cross-examination of Rittenhouse.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger ran afoul of Judge Bruce Schroeder multiple times while questioning Rittenhouse. The judge scolded, then exploded, on Binger for commenting on Rittenhouse’s pretrial silence, which risked violating the 18-year-old’s Fifth Amendment rights.
Schroeder stopped the trial and sent the jury into a nearby room minutes after Binger had begun his examination of Rittenhouse.
“The problem is this is a grave constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant’s silence, and that is, you’re right on the borderline. And you may be over, but it better stop,” Schroeder said. “I can’t think of an initial case on it, but this is not permitted.”
Judge Scolding The Prosecution In The Rittenhouse Case
“The problem is this is a grave constitutional violation for you to talk about the Defendant’s silence.”
“You are right on the borderline, you may be over. It better stop.” pic.twitter.com/OVK9eYOSSm
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) November 10, 2021
Later on during Binger’s examination, the judge sent the jury out again after the prosecutor began to veer into a line of questioning that Binger did not approve with Schroeder beforehand, and that Schroeder had suggested he would forbid in pretrial hearings. The second infraction brought an explosion from the judge over the first, and Schroeder again ripped into Binger for potentially violating Rittenhouse’s rights protected under the Constitution.
“I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence. That’s basic law. It’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that! And it gives, well, I’ll leave it at that. So I don’t know what you’re up to,” Schroeder said.
“I have to be concerned that, with what Mr. Richards has said about the progress of the trial when you were way, well, I said you were close to or over the line on commenting on the defendant’s pretrial silence, which is a well-known rule,” the judge later added. “I am astonished that that would have been an issue. So I don’t want to have another issue for as long as this case continues. Is that clear?”
“It is,” Binger replied before the jury was again brought back to the courtroom.
The judge just chewed out Binger again. Wow. pic.twitter.com/f3fADU2M0A
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) November 10, 2021
Earlier in Rittenhouse’s testimony, Binger had pressed the teen on the actual shootings of the three men, two of which Rittenhouse killed, on August 25, 2020, during a night of riots over the lawful police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man. Rittenhouse claimed that he never intended to kill anyone that night, but he “did what [he] had to do” to defend himself. The exchange went as follows:
Thomas Binger: Everybody that you shot at that night, you intended to kill. Correct?
Kyle Rittenhouse: I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me.
TB: By killing them.
KR: I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me.
TB: By killing them.
KR: Two of them passed away, but I stopped the threat from attacking me.
TB: By using deadly force.
KR: I used deadly force.
TB: That you knew was going to kill.
KR: I didn’t know if it was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me.