The judge in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two men in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a riot last year, warned prospective jurors of an abundance of “irresponsible and sloppy journalism” around the case.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder spoke to a number of potential jurors during the jury selection process on Monday. Schroeder outlined what would be expected of the jury in the case and warned potential jurors about the “very political” nature the case had taken on in the press.
“This case has become very political. It was involved in the politics of the last election year. To this day you can go out now and read things from all across the political spectrum about this case, most of which is written by people who know nothing,” Schroeder said. “I don’t mean that they are know nothings, I mean that they don’t know what you’re going to know, those of you who are selected for this jury, who are going to hear for yourselves the real evidence in this case.”
“There is something called the First Amendment, that’s another part of our Constitution, where they guarantee the right of a free press, and it’s the price we pay for having a free press is a lot of irresponsible and sloppy journalism,” the judge continued. “This is not an attack on the media. I’ve read things about this case that were perfect, perfectly stated what had happened in this court. And there were things, I think ‘was I in the courtroom when that happened?’”
Schroeder went on to warn that journalism from “respectable media outlets” may be biased or uninformed, as well, and warned jurors about taking the reporting of the press too seriously while deciding the case.
“I’m not bashing anybody, but I am going to talk about what you need to do, what you need to be thinking about if you are picked to hear this case, and how much reliance you can put on things that may be just sloppy, which is a vast amount of it. Some of it that is deliberately biased that’s out there, and sometimes from respectable media outlets,” he said. “But that’s the price we pay for having a free press because we value that, but we also value having a fair trial.”
“So the critical thing you must remember is whatever you’ve read or heard about the case before, whatever you’ve been thinking about the case, you have to be in line with what these people, who risked their lives for our freedom, asked of us,” the judge said, referencing the founders of the United States and designers of the Constitution.
Rittenhouse is facing five felony charges after he fatally shot two men and wounded a third during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. He’s also facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of a deadline weapon by a minor. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the riot.
On August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse traveled from nearby Antioch, Illinois, with the stated purpose of aiding business owners and residents to protect their property from rioters and looters who had taken to the streets after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse walked around Kenosha armed with a semi-automatic rifle and carrying a first aid kit for helping anyone caught in the violence in the city.
Rittenhouse has claimed self-defense.
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