As the Kyle Rittenhouse trial gets set to begin Monday, a lot of talk has centered around what a judge is allowing those who were killed, wounded to be called in court.
Most of the headlines will read something like “Judge allows those shot and killed to be called rioters and looters but not victims.”
La Crosse area attorney and Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Steve Doyle talked about those details a bit Wednesday on WIZM.
“Now, the interesting thing about that — apparently, that’s consistent with what the judge has ruled in other criminal cases,” Doyle said on La Crosse Talk PM. “Even if it’s a horrible, horrible case — let’s say it’s a child-molesting case — he would not allow the prosecution to refer to the child as a victim.”
Doyle did note that criminal law was not his expertise but, at an Assembly session earlier in the day with a room full of lawmakers, he did go and ask a colleague if his understanding of the case was correct.
As for calling those shot and wounded or killed by Rittenhouse victims or looters, here’s how the judge phrased that:
“Let the evidence show what the evidence shows, that any or one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting or looting, then I’m not going to tell the defense they can’t call them that,” Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said at a pretrial hearing.
He also reiterated what Doyle had said, that it is his long-held view that attorneys should not use the word “victim.”
“This is consistent in that regard,” Doyle said. “Although, my understanding also, is that this judge is considered … well, since I don’t practice in the Racine-Kenosha area, I guess I can say that people consider him kind of a crackpot, and he is the most highly substituted judge in that area, just because people don’t like practicing in front of him.
“So in Kenosha, he’s the one that most people substitute so that they go away from him.”
Throughout these pretrial hearings, the judge has made multiple decisions that could be questioned — allowing or not allowing certain testimony or videos. That, along with this victims-versus-looters thing, leads Doyle to think this may not end when the trial ends.
“The bigger question right now would be,” Doyle said, “regardless whether this trial ends up with an acquittal or a conviction, is it going to go up on appeal, and the court throws it out and says, ‘This judge made a lot of mistakes and we’re going to do this one over.’”
Rittenhouse is charged with felony homicide related to the shooting and killing of two men, along with a felony attempted homicide for allegedly wounding another during Kenosha protests that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in August 2020.
The video begins with one of those killings and wounding, along with some commentary. It comes after Rittenhouse had killed the other person, as you can hear from those following him.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, is also charged with possession of a dangerous weapon while under the age of 18, a misdemeanor, according to court records.
He has pleaded not guilty.