[Rushtalk] Kyle Rittenhouse Has Been Acquitted on All Charges

Carl Spitzer {C Juno} cwsiv at juno.com
Sat Nov 20 10:19:14 MST 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse Has Been Acquitted on All Charges

The trial became an upside-down microcosm for the polarized debates
about the U.S. criminal justice system.

Billy Binion | 11.19.2021 1:15 PM 

Kyle Rittenhouse looks at evidence during his trial (Mark Hertzberg/ZUMA
Press Wire/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom) 
Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who said he feared for his life when he
killed two men and wounded another during a night of unrest in Kenosha,
Wisconsin, has been found not guilty on all charges, including
first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly
endangering safety, first-degree intentional homicide, and attempted
first-degree intentional homicide.

The prosecution had hoped to convince the jury that a 17-year-old
Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, without
just cause when he traveled to the riots on August 25, 2020, although
their case struggled to gain traction. Rosenbaum was described by a
witness for the state as "hyperaggressive," ultimately chasing
Rittenhouse down and trying to wrestle away his AR-15 before Rittenhouse
shot him. Video footage showed Huber striking Rittenhouse in the neck
with a skateboard before also trying to take his firearm. And Gaige
Grosskreutz, 27, the man who Rittenhouse shot in the bicep, testified
for the prosecution that he approached Rittenhouse that evening with his
own pistol raised, throwing cold water on characterizations that
Grosskreutz had his hands in the air.

The now-18-year-old Rittenhouse became the star witness in his own trial
when he took the stand in his defense last week. It was an unusual
gambit for a defendant. But it may have imperiled the prosecution, as
Judge Bruce Schroeder admonished Assistant District Attorney Thomas
Binger for opening his questioning with a commentary on Rittenhouse's
post-arrest silence—Binger seemed to suggest that such silence was
evidence of his guilt—and for attempting to show the jury evidence that
Schroeder had already ruled was likely inadmissible. "I don't know what
you're up to," the judge said last Wednesday in a testy exchange with
Binger. "When you say that you were acting in good faith, I don't
believe that."

The prosecutor was also roundly criticized for drawing a connection
between Rittenhouse's actions and his affection for Call of Duty, as
well as for his line of questioning on ammunition, which required the
judge to correct him while Rittenhouse was on the stand. Yet a nugget
from his closing arguments drew the loudest rebukes: "If you created the
danger," Binger said, "you forfeit the right to self-defense by bringing
that gun, aiming it at people, threatening people's lives."

No matter your feelings toward Rittenhouse, that statement by the
prosecutor was "legally wrong," says Clark Neily, who served as
co-counsel in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008), the landmark
Supreme Court decision recognizing an individual right to keep and bear
arms for self-defense. "The right to arm yourself and to protect
yourself—these are natural rights that are not granted by the
government, they're not granted by the Constitution. They're rights that
we all possess."

Rittenhouse's trial became somewhat of an upside-down microcosm for the
polarized debates about the U.S. criminal legal system as the loudest
voices effectively traded in their priors and reversed roles. Cries to
eschew due process and assign a lengthy prison term came from many on
the criminal-justice-reform left, while the back-the-blue right zeroed
in on prosecutorial overreach.

"Lock up Kyle Rittenhouse and throw away the key," said Rep. Hakeem
Jeffries (D–N.Y.), the chair of the House Democratic Caucus, who has
dedicated much of his career to fighting mass incarceration. Judge
Schroeder found himself at the center of similar reproach, coming under
fire for rulings that some described as biased and too pro-defendant. It
bears mentioning that his decisions were consistent with his
decades-long career and not exclusive to Rittenhouse. But perhaps more
significant is that judges have a reputation for being prosecutors in
robes: On the federal bench, for instance, there are four former
prosecutors for every one former defense attorney. Those concerned with
criminal justice reform would typically laud a judge with a history like
Schroeder's—when considering the deference that judges often give to the

And this time it was conservative pundits who railed against the
prosecutors, depicting Binger especially as a corrupt government agent
with a lust for blood and a desire to punish Rittenhouse to placate
social justice movements. One hopes they will continue to apply that
healthy skepticism to all prosecutors, who enjoy absolute immunity from
misconduct on the job and who are no strangers to seedy behavior.

As for Rittenhouse, despite the considerable amount of punditry devoted
to a binary narrative—that he was a hero or a murderer—Neily presents
another option: "I think he exhibited very poor judgement in arming
himself and then going into that environment with a very visible, modern
rifle. There's no question that there are people who perceive that to be
a provocative act," Neily says. Based on the evidence, however, "I think
he should be acquitted."

It appears the jury agrees.


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