Judge Schroeder Continues To Raise Eyebrows During the Rittenhouse Trial
Since Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial began, Judge Bruce Schroeder’s behaviors have ignited a widespread conversation across social media, with many people pointing to actions demonstrating a bias in favor of the defense.
Defense attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, who is charged with killing two men and grievously wounding a third, buttoned up their case on Thursday, with closing arguments from both sides expected to begin on Monday.
Amid unrest related to the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, during the Black Lives Matter movement, Rittenhouse, then 17-years-old, drove to Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020 armed with a semi-automatic AR-15 style rifle. After being charged for homicide in the killing of two men, Rittenhouse subsequently claimed he was present at the protests to protect a local car dealership from being vandalized by protesters.
A proponent of the Blue Lives Matter movement, which promotes a pro-police mentality, Rittenhouse shadowed law enforcement as a police cadet in 2017.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over Rittenhouse’s trial, halted Rittenhouse’s testimony on Wednesday after he began to sob upon describing the moments leading up to when he shot and killed two people. A number of individuals, such as NBA star Lebron James, have doubted the veracity of Rittenhouse’s emotional display, asserting that it was contrived and in stark contrast with his demeanor immediately after the shootings occurred.
Schroeder has ignited a string of media publicity, after making a series of offensive remarks over the course of the trial. Some individuals are condemning the judge’s behaviors and accusing him of siding with the defense and maintaining a pronounced bias, while others are calling the trial itself a “circus.” Here are some of the most salient moments from the trial.
Schroeder made an inappropriate joke about Asian food.
Prior to a courtroom lunch break during Thursday’s trial, Judge Schroeder said, “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming ... isn’t on one of those boats in Long Beach Harbor,” ostensibly referring to supply chain issues as ships hang idly offshore in California. Schroeder received significant backlash for the comment, which was interpreted as racist by some.
Stanford law professor, Michele Dauber tweeted, “The biased judge in the Rittenhouse trial just made a thinly-veiled anti-Asian comment...Because all Asian food comes from China like the boats haha bigot.”
John C. Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) also had strong thoughts about the judge’s off-color comment, sharing, “Seriously, this remark can only be seen as a joke at the expense of Asians/Asian Americans. During a trial that clearly has race implications, no less. Definitely not okay.”
He has repeatedly sparred with prosecution.
As prosecutors probed Rittenhouse’s actions from the night he arrived in Kenosha, Schroeder began to yell, telling prosecutor Thomas Binger that he was “astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s [Rittenhouse] post-arrest silence...So, I don’t know what you’re up to!”
Schroeder was caught reading a cookie catalogue during a brief interim.
As he took a pause from legal arguments, Schroeder perused a 2021 edition of We Energies Cookie Book, which is themed “celebrating military service,” and features recipes from veterans and active service members.
He banned the term “victims” from the courtroom.
Schroeder refused to allow the court to refer to the men Rittenhouse killed “victims,” but permitted the terminology “looters”, “arsonists,” and “rioters” to describe the deceased, if Rittenhouse’s defense attorneys could prove that they engaged in such actions. Schroeder cited the fact that “‘victim’ is a ‘loaded word’” in his reasoning.
Schroeder disallowed the use of an iPad’s “pinch-to-zoom” function.
After one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys made an unfounded claim about manipulation of video footage, Schroeder asserted that Apple alters content using an artificial intelligence system. “iPads, which are made by Apple, have artificial intelligence in them that allow things to be viewed through three-dimensions and logarithms,” the defense team said. “It uses artificial intelligence, or their logarithms, to create what they believe is happening. So this isn’t actually enhanced video, this is Apple’s iPad programming creating what it thinks is there, not what necessarily is there,” they added.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial provides a public glimpse into citizen vigilantism, in which civilians use violence or other extreme measures to effect political or societal change.
In many ways, Rittenhouse has gained recognition among certain right-wing members as a martyr-like figure. Former president Donald Trump, who made headlines when he defended Rittenhouse’s actions, himself was accused of inciting violence that fueled the Jan 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Prosecutors have stated that they plan to ask Judge Schroeder to allow the jury to consider lesser versions of the charges Rittenhouse faces, for which he has pleaded not guilty on all counts.