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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Explainer: how was the Rittenhouse jury narrowed?

by Scott Bauer, Todd Richmond and Michael Turm

Kenosha, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse played a direct role Tuesday in selecting the final 12 jurors who were deciding their innocence or guilt in the murder trial over the murder of two protesters and the wounding of a third last summer.

At the direction of Circuit Judge Bruce Schroder, Rittenhouse’s attorney placed the slips of paper in a raffle drum containing the number of each of the 18 jurors who sat during the two-week trial. The drum sat on the window sill throughout the trial but was placed in front of Rittenhouse on the defense table on Tuesday.

With the jury watching, Rittenhouse selected six pieces of paper from the drum, each with a number that corresponded to a juror. A court official then read aloud the number of jurors to be dismissed: 11, 58, 14, 45, 9 and 52. The names of the jury members have not been made public.

The dismissed jury member will not be among the last 12 members considering the case. But he was required to remain in the courthouse, at the request of the defense, until the jury returned with a verdict.

Hours later, in response to questions about the drawing, Schroeder said that he defendants have been drawing a number of alternative jurors from Drum for nearly 20 years.

Portage County Assistant District Attorney Robert Jambois was a prosecutor in Kenosha in 2008 when he tried Mark Jensen for murder in front of Schroeder. Jensen was charged with poisoning and murdering his wife for landing in Schroeder’s courtroom in front of Rittenhouse.

Jambois stated that the alternate was designated by choosing a number from a glass, but the clerk of the courts drew numbers from it, not from Jensen.

“I’ve never heard of a defendant pulling out names,” Jambois said. “It is done by a member of the court.”

Julius Kim, a former assistant district attorney for Milwaukee County, said he has never allowed a judge to pull a defendant’s numbers to determine who would be the final members of the jury.

“It’s not unusual to have a lot of options to choose from,” Kim said. “(But) I’ve never allowed a judge to draw up those names to a defendant. It may be a little unorthodox but there’s nothing wrong with that that I could really see.”

Milwaukee-based defense attorney Tom Grieve also said he had never seen a defendant do this, “but it’s like walking shoulder to shoulder with me.”

“I don’t really care,” Grieve said. “The point is they have some system in place to get up to 12 jurors. It’s certainly unusual but I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

Ioan Mayen, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said there is no bar on a defendant to remove the number of elective jurors, but that common practice is for clerks of the courts to do so.

“It’s not really a well-disputed area,” Maine said.

If it’s common practice for that judge, then prosecutors can decide it doesn’t deserve to be objected, Maine said.

“Very risky,” objected Mehn. “Too many downsides to that.”

The Rittenhouse jury pool began at age 20, but one juror was dismissed for health reasons and another was let go after telling a joke related to the case.

The jury began deliberations on Tuesday, minutes after Rittenhouse pulled the numbers. The judge asked both the parties to remain within 10 minutes of the court in case there were questions.

Rittenhouse faced multiple charges after killing two protesters in the streets of Kenosha last summer and injuring a third. The protests were inspired by the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, argues that he acted in self-defense. The most serious charge before jurors could land Rittenhouse in prison for life.

Judge Schroeder at Rittenhouse’s trial is the longest-serving Circuit Court judge in Wisconsin. The 75-year-old’s methods have garnered attention throughout the trial, including initially reading trivia questions to jurors, claiming a lack of knowledge about modern technology, applause to veterans as a defense witness on Veterans Day. Including those who have served in the military. Was about to testify and was sometimes speaking angrily at prosecutors when they followed lines of questioning that he had stopped.


Bauer and Richmond reported from Madison, Wisconsin.


Get full coverage of AP’s Rittenhouse trial: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse

World Nation News Desk
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