A series of moves made by the judge presiding over Kyle Rittenhouse‘s upcoming murder trial suggests that he may not be as impartial as he’s supposed to be.
At least, that’s according to a growing chorus of doubters across social media who were reacting to Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce E. Schroeder’s most recent rulings in the case that appear to give preferential treatment to the teenager who is accused of bringing a high-powered assault rifle across state lines and using it to murder two people and shoot another who were participating in the protest of a police shooting in the Milwaukee suburb.
Namely, Schroeder on Monday — the final court hearing before the trial begins next week — ruled the people who 17-year-old Rittenhouse gunned down in a street can’t be referred to as “victims.” However, Schroeder will allow the two deceased men to be “referred to as rioters, looters or arsonists or other pejorative terms,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
To be sure, Rittenhouse’s shooting victims — Anthony Huber, 26, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, both of whom were killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, who was shot in the arm and survived — were neither rioting nor looting. All three have been described as activists in their own rights who traveled to Kenosha to join in the demonstrations against local police for shooting a Black man seven times at close range in the back, paralyzing him from the waist down. Jacob Blake was shot two days before Rittenhouse, who traveled to Kenosha from his native Illinois, unleashed his shooting spree on Grosskreutz, Huber and Rosenbaum.
It was in that context that Schroeder made his rulings on Monday.
Not to be understated, Schroeder also ruled on Monday that only the defense can refer to Rittenhouse by his first name during the trial. Schroeder said he typically makes the court refer to adults by their last name. Rittenhouse has since turned 18 years old is an adult for all intents and purposes — except in Schroeder’s courtroom.
That was just one of a handful of considerations Schroeder appeared to be making for Rittenhouse and his defense team.
Earlier this year, Schroeder extended more sympathetic treatment to Rittenhouse that defy legal standards by inexplicably ruling that the teenager did not violate the terms of his bond by concealing his address from the court. Thus, demands by a prosecutor to increase Rittenhouse’s bond and issue a warrant for his arrest were denied. Schroeder said during the February hearing that he didn’t think doing so would be lawful.
At the time, Rittenhouse’s exact location was unclear after a court notice sent to his home address in Illinois was returned by new residents there. Rittenhouse had been using a PO Box, instead. The terms of his bond mandated he reside at the address with which he provided the court.
“We don’t know where an accused murderer is at,” Kenosha Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger. “I think that’s a problem. I’m not OK with that.”
That prompted Schroeder to throw Rittenhouse a bone and rule he must disclose his current address to every local law enforcement agency involved except for the Kenosha Assistant District Attorney’s office. Kenosha Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger called that ruling unacceptable and said it ran counter to legal precedent, but Schroeder had already ended the hearing by that point.
Schroeder said Rittenhouse did not commit a serious crime when violating the terms of his bond that the teenager agreed to and has been present at every court appearance and abided by all other conditions imposed upon him.
Rittenhouse was arrested in August last year for the killings and was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. Rittenhouse’s social media accounts show that he’s pro-Donald Trump and pro-police with various posts about “Blue Lives Matter.”
Rittenhouse is facing more than 200 years in prison for his alleged crimes.
There is unverified video footage on social media purporting to show “the Kenosha shooter being offered water from the Kenosha police” and claiming “The police is working with the shooting militia.”
This is America.