Headlines continue about Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder, the experienced jurist presiding over the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the case, here’s what it’s all about. Schroeder first received flack for barring the use of the word “victim” in his courtroom. He’s been accused of showing bias toward the defense. An example was an attempt to honor veterans, which resulted in gallery applause for a veteran testifying for the defense. He also made an off-color comment about Asian food and the supply chain delays, which pundits interpreted as anti-Asian, blaming Asians for causing our current supply chain issues.
Here’s my take on the various issues:
- He seems to be enjoying the limelight and making the trial about him rather than about “justice.” I’d prefer he make simple rulings on the issues and stop “performing” for the cameras.
- On using the word “victims” to describe people shot that evening, I tend to agree with the judge. If we are truly ‘innocent until proven guilty’ in this country, something the press and the public often forget, Rittenhouse’s actions that night have not yet created “victims.” That designation is for the jury to decide. However, Judge Schroeder denigrates the gesture by permitting the use of descriptive words like rioters, arsonists, and looters, which, for many, creates the appearance of bias toward the defense.
- His Asian food comment is just plain stupid. STFU and be a judge; do not attempt to be a comedian. You are not funny!
- He challenged a prosecutor for defying him but gave the defense a pass when it behaved in a similar manner.
Here’s the straight scoop: Prosecutors have the same rights of appeal as the defense, but no one’s freedom is at stake when the prosecution loses. One could argue that the public danger is a serious consequence of a prosecutor’s failure; a prosecutor does not go to prison for life when he loses a case. When the defense loses, there are usually some serious consequences to the defendant. Thus, judges tend to rule in ways that would prevent a successful appeal by the defense. Sometimes that appears as ‘bias.’ What may appear as bias to some, could be the judge’s desire for a clean, unappealable record.
Schroeder has the reputation of being a no-nonsense judge. That’s fine. Nonsense doesn’t belong in a courtroom, and that applies not only to the litigants but also to the judge. Judge Schroeder: Cut the nonsense.
Experienced attorney, lawsuit funding expert, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series. The series features super-trial lawyer Zachary Blake handling "ripped from the headlines" legal and political issues of the day. The series currently consists of Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, and Betrayal High, with a sixth Zachary Blake novel due out later this year. To learn more about these topical social justice legal thrillers. please visit markmbello.com. Mark is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.