When closing arguments begin Monday in Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial, legal experts expect a dominant and unflinching arbiter to rule the courtroom until the end: Judge Bruce Schroeder.
Schroeder, 75, has not shied away from the national spotlight while presiding over the biggest case of his more
than four decades on the bench in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.
During the almost two weeks of the trial, he has lashed out in anger.
lectured the jury by citing Roman history and the Bible, and been a divisive figure to those watching the proceedings.
On Friday, while hearing arguments about what to include in jury instructions.
he quipped about getting text messages from “my few remaining friends” as part of a larger point about touchscreen technology on electronic devices.
He also grew prickly about a debate over photos, saying:
“You’re asking me to give an instruction. I want to see the best picture!”
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a Democrat, echoed sentiments on social media questioning his courtroom style.
tweeting Schroeder is “an incompetent Judge on the case who ought not to be on the bench Rittenhouse .”
Steven Wright, a clinical law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, disagreed with Dean’s characterization.
but said that judges have a responsibility to be neutral so that people have a sense that a trial is being
Rittenhouse Conducted impartially and fairly under the law :
“The things I’ve seen from the judge wouldn’t constitute misconduct or jeopardize Mr. Rittenhouse’s constitutional right to a fair trial.
but any time that the judge approaches the line of a controversial or polarizing issue.
it hurts that goal to instill nationwide faith in our criminal justice system.
It was Chief Justice John Roberts who said ‘judges are like umpires.’ So the umpire should never be the star of the baseball game.”
Schroeder grabbed attention during the televised trial for scolding the prosecution for its line of questioning on the same day that Rittenhouse.
The judge’s personality and personal values also came across in other ways at trial:
On Veterans Day:
he requested everyone applaud for the veterans in the courtroom, which turned out to be a sole person.
a witness for the defense; his cellphone inadvertently went off, revealing his ringtone choice as “God Bless the USA”.
and he joked about Asian food delivery for lunch.
which prompted backlash by some on social media who found it offensive, claiming racial overtones.
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“Every time he does something that other judges might not have done and demonstrates some aspect of his values and personality.
Whether he means to or not,” Wright said:
Scrutiny of Schroeder began even before the trial opened against Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse, now 18, testified he had gone to Kenosha to protect businesses from looters.
The contrast drew criticism from legal observers who said framing those killed as “looters” could put a negative
connotation in jurors’ minds the same way “victims” could be viewed as sympathetic.
Schroeder’s courtroom conduct drew praise from Rittenhouse mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, who told Fox News’ Sean.
Rittenhouse mother defends son in first interview:
Legal experts say Schroeder’s decision to salute veterans in the courtroom could play to members of the jury.
“I probably would have avoided it,” Wright said.
But Michael Cicchini, a Kenosha-based defense attorney who’s had more than 10 jury trials before Schroeder.
If anything, Cicchini said, Schroeder’s demeanor in which he dresses down attorneys or appears ornery is not uncommon.