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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Opinion

Judge Schroeder showed favor towards Rittenhouse


Judge Schroeder showed favor towards Rittenhouse

Juana Garcia/The Cougar

The jurors in Wisconsin v. Kyle Rittenhouse finished deliberations on November 19, acquitting the 18-year-old of all charges pressed against him. The constricted verbiage Judge Bruce Schroeder required during the controversial trial resulted in the judge favoring the side of the defense. 

It would be unfair to not mention the catastrophic performance of both prosecutors Thomas Binger and James Kraus. The prosecution’s case relied primarily on altered video evidence and prior social media posts made by Rittenhouse. This evidence ultimately ended up not being enough and the prosecution had no backup plan.

Most notably, Binger’s tense exchanges with Judge Schroeder may have been his undoing: questioning a court’s ruling twice in such a highly-televised case will unsurprisingly result in a warning from the judge. 

However, it was Judge Schroeder’s admonition towards the prosecutors that surprised viewers.

Therein lies the problem. In a case where rights surrounding self-defense is being questioned, it is imperative for the judge to be level-headed as to not sway the jurors’ views on the prosecutors and the defense. 

Most importantly, Judge Schroeder said during a proceeding that the words “victim” and “alleged victim” are both “loaded, loaded word(s).” Opting to leave out the word “victim” in the trial hurt the prosecution in the case of Gaige Grosskreutz.

Grosskreutz testified that he believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter who needed to be stopped and that he put his hands up when confronting him. It was not until he lowered his hands and advanced on Rittenhouse with his handgun pointed that he fired at Grosskreutz. 

Grosskreutz added that because he is a paramedic, he feared for Rittenhouse’s life whenever he saw a mob chasing after him. 

But despite his sympathy for Rittenhouse, Grosskreutz was utilizing self-defense.

Even Rittenhouse’s lawyer Mark Richards admitted that his client shot first. This was a missed opportunity for the prosecution simply because Judge Schroeder argued against the use of the word “victim.” 

It was established that Grosskreutz believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter and he had already tended to wounded individuals prior to encountering Rittenhouse.

It would not have been unreasonable to say Grosskreutz was acting on the idea that Rittenhouse was a dangerous shooter who had endangered others’ lives and he was defending himself when pointing his handgun at another armed individual. But, the prosecution could not call him a “victim” due to the established language during the proceeding. 

The forbidden use of the word “victim” ultimately hurt the prosecution’s case and allowed for all sympathy from the jury to go to Rittenhouse rather than Grosskreutz.

Judge Schroeder often acted within his rights as a judge during the trial. But the omission of key verbiage and admonition that harmed the prosecution swayed the case in favor of the defense.

While many other factors influenced the verdict, Judge Schroeder was the ultimate mediator who moderated too much towards the side of the defense. 

JJ Caceres is a political science freshman who can be reached at [email protected]

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