November 11, 2021

Rittenhouse: The Right to Self-Defense Is on Trial

The actions by the state prosecutors demonstrate they have no case, and they never did.

Even before Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand yesterday to give testimony in his own defense, it was already clear thanks to the state’s own witnesses that the prosecution has no case. What has become patently evident throughout the course of this trial of a young man charged with the deaths of two men is that the preponderance of facts demonstrates a near textbook example of an individual acting in self-defense. Yet from the Leftmedia’s coverage, it seems the trial is a question of whether an individual vilified as a “white supremacist” even has a right to act in self-defense since he was standing in opposition to a Black Lives Matter riot. In other words, the Leftmedia is not interested in whether justice will be served but in whether the cause of social justice will be served.

Again, it is evident that the state has no case here, and the prosecutors’ decision to proceed anyway is a chilling example of government officials putting a political agenda over justice. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy writes, “So clearly innocent is this defendant that his being forced to stand trial at all, in a justice system where the accused is presumed innocent even when the evidence of guilt is overwhelming, should frighten us.” Indeed, what happened to the foundational legal idea of innocent until proven guilty?

To be clear, whether Rittenhouse should or should not have been in Kenosha that night is not the issue here. (In any event, our Douglas Andrews fully explored that question last week.) “Exercising poor judgment is not a crime,” McCarthy observes. “Neither, for that matter, is being a young white police supporter whose presence at an anti-police riot is irksome to young white radicals. Being armed with a rifle at the scene could be a crime, but it probably isn’t in Rittenhouse’s case.”

The question is whether his use of deadly force that resulted in the deaths of two individuals and the injuring of a third was a lawful exercise of his right to self-defense.

Rittenhouse took the stand yesterday to argue just that. It was a decision many legal pundits deemed a risky move, especially since the prosecution’s own witnesses not only failed to make their case but in fact served to bolster the defense’s case.

However, upon engaging in cross-examination of Rittenhouse, it was once again prosecutors who found themselves on the defensive. In fact, lead prosecutor Thomas Binger was reprimanded several times by Judge Bruce Schroeder, including when Schroeder upbraided Binger for bordering on a “grave constitutional violation.” The judge said: “I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence. … That’s basic law. It’s been basic law in this country for 40 or 50 years. … You’re an experienced trial lawyer, and this should not have been gone into.”

So bad was the prosecution’s behavior that it opened the door wide for Rittenhouse’s defense team to request a mistrial with prejudice. Some have even wondered if that isn’t the prosecution’s goal, although if the judge declares a mistrial with prejudice, the state would be barred from retrying Rittenhouse.

Schroeder indicated that he would consider it, though for now it appears the trial will go on. Even so, the prosecution is skating on thin ice. If the state engages in any further shenanigans, it’s likely that Schroeder would grant the defense’s mistrial request. Schroeder also wants the trial wrapped up by tomorrow.

Finally, McCarthy’s astute observations sum up the true motive for why this case ever made it to trial. He writes: “We have constitutional firearms rights primarily to protect ourselves. The Wisconsin prosecutors of Kyle Rittenhouse are trying to turn self-defense into a crime. They obviously do not approve of firearms for protective purposes. And of course, Rittenhouse’s self-defense intruded on the social-justice cause of brutal rioting that we’re supposed to believe somehow combats the supposed scourges of white supremacism and police brutality.”

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