During the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse last week, Judge Bruce Schroeder was photographed positioning himself closely next to the defendant while looking at evidence on a screen together.
The photos of the two in close proximity, however, sparked commentary online, given that Rittenhouse is on trial for murder.
Non-profit Reading the Pictures, a contributor to Columbia Journalism Review, described the photos as showing an “unusual proximity & alignment between Rittenhouse and the judge.”
“One shot’s from Getty, the other from Reuters. In both, no surprise, we see an unusual proximity & alignment between Rittenhouse and the judge as they watch evidence video,” the account captioned the photos. “That’s [Kyle Rittenhouse’s] lawyer to the right.”
One shot’s from Getty, the other from Reuters. In both, no surprise, we see an unusual proximity & alignment between Rittenhouse and the judge as they watch evidence video. That’s KR’s lawyer to the right. pic.twitter.com/3RISlkzAWQ
— Reading The Pictures (@ReadingThePix) November 14, 2021
Politico Jack Posobiec underscored that Rittenhouse is not cuffed when the judge is positioned next to Rittenhouse, suggesting that no one in the courtroom, including the judge, views the teen as a threat.
“No one in the room felt the need to say or do anything about an ‘accused double murderer’ leaning over the judge from behind, completely unshackled,” he captioned the photo. “Tells you everything you need to know.”
The post went viral, racking up more than 41,000 likes.
No one in the room felt the need to say or do anything about an ‘accused double murderer’ leaning over the judge from behind, completely unshackled
Tells you everything you need to know pic.twitter.com/PhgtwaYQEa
— Jacek Posobiec 🇺🇸🇵🇱 (@JackPosobiec) November 13, 2021
“Watching the Rittenhouse trial, never seen anything like this before. Rittenhouse, on trial for murder, is standing right behind the judge in uncuffed with no officer nearby,” pundit Armstrong Williams posted.
Watching the Rittenhouse trial, never seen anything like this before. Rittenhouse, on trial for murder, is standing right behind the judge in uncuffed with no officer nearby.
— Armstrong Williams (@Arightside) November 12, 2021
Even before the trial began, legal experts agreed that Rittenhouse has a strong claim to self-defense.
However, it seems prosecution was granted a big boost by Schroeder on Friday when he said he would allow the jury to consider if Rittenhouse “provoked” an encounter with rioter Anthony Huber, 26, who was fatally shot by the teen on August 25, 2020.
“The ruling is a boost for prosecutors because it opens the door for them to argue that Rittenhouse was the aggressor, which would raise the bar for the teenager’s effort to convince the jury that he acted in self-defense,” Reuters reported.
“Now it’s a fair fight,” said Wisconsin criminal defense attorney Patrick Cafferty. “Without that instruction they would have zero chance.”
Moreover, as USAToday reported, the jury is being instructed to hear lesser charges against Rittenhouse: “Judge Bruce Schroeder said he would not include a lesser charge in the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum but would include two lesser charges in the shooting of Anthony Huber.”
Milwaukee criminal defense attorney Craig Mastantuono says the instructions bolster prosecution, essentially allowing the state to “throw more against the wall to see if it sticks,” the USAToday report outlined:
Lesser included charges are a way for the prosecution to give a jury more to consider and, possibly, find a defendant guilty, according to Milwaukee criminal defense attorney Craig Mastantuono, who is also an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School. Lesser charges are included in the instructions given to the jury before the beginning of deliberations.
“Could the prosecution be asking for lesser included charges because they’re not as confident that an all-or-nothing gambit on the originally filed – particularly homicide-related charges – is a good, safe bet for them? Yeah, that’s why they’re asking for lesser included,” Mastantuono told USA TODAY.
“Throw more against the wall to see if it sticks.”
Last week, the defense asked Judge Schroeder for a mistrial with prejudice, which, if granted, would effectively dismiss the case permanently.
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