MADISON, Wis. (NewsNation Now) — The lead prosecutor in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial angered the judge Wednesday, creating a potentially hostile environment that could influence the jury, a legal analyst said.
“The jury wasn’t in the room when he’s doing the bulk of his screaming, but if a jury respects the judge and the judge is clear, in terms of animosity toward one side or the other, the jury is going to be impacted,” Julie Rendleman, legal analyst for Law & Crime Network, said on Dan Abrams Live.
What got the judge so angry?
Prosecutors earlier this year sought permission to introduce into evidence a brief video taken 15 days before the protest shootings, in which Rittenhouse is heard watching some men exit a CVS pharmacy and commenting that he wished he had his rifle so he could shoot them because he thought they were shoplifters.
Lead prosecutor Thomas Binger argued at a pretrial hearing that it showed Rittenhouse’s mindset as “a teenage vigilante, involving himself in things that don’t concern him.” But Judge Bruce Schroeder questioned its relevance and said at a pretrial hearing that he was inclined not to allow it — though he suggested he might reassess that at trial.
Binger peppered Rittenhouse with question after question, asking him whether it was acceptable to use deadly force to protect people. The defense eventually objected and Schroeder angrily sent the jury out.
When Binger told the judge he had left the door open to allowing testimony on the issue in his early ruling, Schroeder yelled: “For me! Not for you!”
“This is prosecutorial misconduct, and I believe there’s bad faith in some of what he did,” Rendleman said. “And if that exists, then they’re going to have fantastic grounds for appeal, if there’s a conviction.”
Rittenhouse’s attorney also accused Binger of commenting on his client’s right to remain silent about the case, to which Binger responded that the defendant was tailoring his testimony to details already introduced in court.
That also angered Schroeder, who called it a “grave constitutional violation” to talk about the defendant’s silence and warning him that he “better stop.”
“That’s basically, it’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years,” Schroeder said. “I have no idea why you would do something like that.”
Rittenhouse’s attorneys said they would seek a mistrial with prejudice — meaning the case could not be re-filed — and Schroeder said he would consider their motion later, but seemed unlikely to grant it.
“The judge is not going to want to take away the the ability of the jury to decide this case,” criminal defense attorney Joseph Tully said on “Dan Abrams Live.” “They’ve come along this far. So at the most, if the prosecution does something very extraordinarily out of bounds, that judge will declare a mistrial that allows them to re-prosecute.”
Near the end of the court day Wednesday, Schroeder told the jury he expected the case to wrap up early next week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.