Judge Bruce Schroeder disallowed the use of the word ‘victim” when referring to the deceased because that is what the trial seeks to answer. If Kyle murdered the men, then they are victims. If Kyle didn’t murder the men but instead killed only in legal self-defense then they are not victims. It seems reasonable that one would disallow the use of the word victim in that instance because it is the question the trial seeks to answer.
So it would also seem that whether or not Kyle was in the act of/ attempting to defending property at the time of the shooting is what the trial seeks to determine. The defense would like to argue that Kyle was not defending or attempting to defend property at the time of the shooting. The Prosecution would like to argue that Kyle was in the process of or attempting to defend property at the time of the shooting.
If we accept that premise then it is a blatant and egregious violation for Judge Schroeder to openly state that Kyle was not defending property. That is the entire point of the trial. If Kyle was defending property at the time of the shooting then he has no legal claim to self-defense. If Judge Schroeder has already determined that Kyle was not in the process of attempting to defend property when he proceeded to car source lot #3, after receiving a call to head to car source lot #3 to stop cars from being vandalized, then there is no point in the trial.
Judge Bruce Schroeder has on several occasions throughout the trial shown a clear and obvious prejudice against the prosecution. This is just the latest of Judge Schroeder’s bias in the case. This blatant violation by Judge Schroeder comes after the prosecution sought to introduce video recording of Kyle stating that he wished he had his AR-15 on him so he could shoot and kill people he mistakenly believed to be shoplifting from a CVS just 15 days before Kyle use that same firearm to shoot and kill two people.
Judge Schroeder, also, ordered that other words could be used — “rioters,” “looters” or “arsonists” — if Rittenhouse’s defense attorneys can provide the evidence that they had engaged in those acts.
As he set the ground rules for the trial, Schroeder said that the label “victim” is a “loaded word” and that even the use of “alleged victim” is too close, telling prosecutors that “complaining witness” or “decedent” are acceptable alternatives.
While legal experts and lawyers familiar with state laws say Schroeder is well within his authority to set boundaries on language, his rule sets the stage for further scrutiny in a highly charged trial that has captured national attention since Rittenhouse, who is now 18, was arrested in August 2020. He faces multiple charges, including homicide, in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz.
“That’s pretty standard in his courtroom to not allow ‘victim,'” said Ted Kmiec, a local criminal defense lawyer who has had cases before Schroeder. “He believes you’re presumed innocent, and with that presumption of innocence, nobody is a victim unless it’s proven.”
Keith Findley, a law professor at the University of Wisconsin and a former public defender, said that while the order is more of a “defense-friendly position,” it’s not entirely unjustified, because it would “allow the prosecution to continually use language that suggests a conclusion as if it’s a given fact to jurors.” Something Judge Schroeder apparently believes only he is allowed to do.
On the other hand, he said, words like “looter” and “rioter” carry negative connotations, and it “feels a little bit jarring for the court to ban the use of one descriptor and not another.”
Juliet Sorensen, a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, said a judge who wants to appear impartial “should not want unfair prejudice to creep in through any language.” Yet Judge Schroeder is the violator of that idea in his own court room.
“If the judge is trying to sanitize the language around the events that occurred at that time, I don’t know why he wouldn’t extend it to those other words,” she said. “Describe the events, put in the evidence at trial of what happened that night, and we can avoid all language that is potentially inflammatory.”
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, who attended the pretrial hearing, acknowledged that Schroeder’s order is a double standard.
“The terms that I’m identifying here, such as ‘rioter,’ ‘looter’ and ‘arsonist,’ are as loaded, if not more loaded, than the term ‘victim,'” Binger told the court, according to the newspaper. He declined to comment further.
Civil rights lawyer David Henderson, a former prosecutor in Texas, said on MSNBC that even if any of the men who were shot had engaged in criminal behavior before the encounter, “that wouldn’t have given Kyle Rittenhouse the right to shoot them.”
Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty. Armed with a semiautomatic rifle and acting on calls on social media, he left Illinois to respond to the demonstrations in Kenosha, where a police officer had shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, setting off a wave of protests against police brutality. Rittenhouse’s defense team is expected to argue that he was attacked as he was trying to protect businesses from looters, prompting him to open fire in self-defense.
In the lead-up to the trial, Schroeder had thrown out pretrial motions from both sides, including an attempt by prosecutors to submit evidence that they said would show Rittenhouse’s tendency to act like a vigilante and the defense’s request to include evidence that one of those who were shot was a convicted sex-offender.
“He is a very no-nonsense judge,” Kmiec said. “I would not put a label on him, but I think he’s fair.”
Schroeder, 75, a former Kenosha County prosecutor, has been a jurist for more than four decades. He is the longest-serving active circuit judge in the state, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, having won re-election in 2014 unopposed.
Schroeder was also in the national spotlight in the trial of Mark Jensen, a Wisconsin man who was accused of murdering his wife by poisoning her with antifreeze in 1998. Schroeder sentenced him to life in prison. Jensen’s conviction was vacated in April when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution couldn’t use a letter that his wife, Julie, had written.
Schroeder had allowed the letter and voicemails in the original trial, triggering two decades of litigation. Jensen is awaiting a new trial. After Todays antics, the prosecution may be seeking similar action to retry the case with a judge who isn’t obviously biased against the prosecution throughout the trial
With all eyes on him again, legal experts say, it’s important that Schroeder appears as an impartial arbiter of the law in a trial that has residents of Kenosha on edge again.
“The jury is the finder of facts. The judge is the expert, the umpire, during the trial,” Sorensen said. “That’s how it must come across.” Unfortunately, it seems Judge Schroeder has not heeded that warning.