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Friday, December 3, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse Lawyers’ Trial Playbook: Don’t ‘Crusade’, Defend

Shortly after a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges against him, defense attorney Mark Richards took a jibe at his predecessors, telling reporters their strategy—for the right to carry weapons and defend himself. Rittenhouse’s portrayal as a rallying point leaned in – were not it.

“I was hired by two lawyers earlier. I’m not going to use his name,” Richards said on Friday. “They wanted to use Kyle for a reason and something that I thought was inappropriate — and I don’t represent the reasons. I represent the customers.”

The angry rhetoric about Rittenhouse’s case did not subside with the change in attorneys. But Richards smiled as he spoke to reporters outside his Racine law office after his acquittal, saying that to him, the only thing that mattered was “whether he was found not guilty or not.”

Along with co-counselor Corey Chirafisi, he spent months pursuing the case in virtual silence — “I don’t do interviews,” he said ruthlessly to an email request in December — and trialled to downplay polarizing questions. Demanded Second Amendment rights.

This was a strategy that sometimes conflicted with other forces around Rittenhouse. Fox News had a camera crew embedded with Rittenhouse at some point, including before and after the verdict, collecting material for a documentary marketed as the “Tucker Carlson Original”. Carlson tweeted a promo for the documentary that aired in December, as well as teased an exclusive interview with Rittenhouse that aired Monday night.

The contingents sometimes sat in defense meetings. Richards told The Associated Press that he called it inappropriate and said he had dropped the crew several times. He said it was arranged by those who raised the money for Rittenhouse.

“It wasn’t approved by me, but I’m not always in control,” he said. “I think that fell apart from what we were trying to do, and it was clearly Kyle to be found not guilty.”

Despite what was happening behind the scenes, Richards and Chirafisi’s strategy in court was clear: ask the jury to treat Rittenhouse as a frightened teen who shot to save his life.

He repeatedly focused on the two minutes, 55 seconds the shooting unfolded – the crucial moment in which 17-year-old Rittenhouse said he sensed a threat and pulled the trigger.

“These guys have a client who’s a human … that’s what they’re focused on,” said Dean Strang, a defense attorney and professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Strang, who spoke to the AP ahead of Friday’s ruling and who was not associated with the case, said Richards and Chirafisi see Rittenhouse “as an 18-year-old kid who got into a whole lot of trouble, more than he did.” Much more than I could handle.”

In the days following the shooting, Rittenhouse—who brought an AR-style rifle to a protest, saying he was guarding a stranger’s property—was initially represented by attorneys John Pearce and Lynn Wood, who Rittenhouse as a defender of freedom and a patriot. who was exercising his right to bear arms. Pierce tweeted a video of Rittenhouse talking on the phone from an Illinois prison, where he thanks supporters. A video released by a group linked to his legal team said Rittenhouse was being “sacrificed by politicians”, whose “end game” was to withhold “the constitutional right of all citizens to protect our communities”.

Rivers of money flowed into a legal defense fund—more than enough for Rittenhouse to post his $2 million bail—but Wood dropped the case and became active in suppressing the false claim that Donald Trump won the presidential election. Was. Pierce dropped the criminal case in December after prosecutors said he should not be allowed to raise funds for Rittenhouse, but he remained on the civil side of things until Rittenhouse said they fired him in February.

On Friday, Richards recounted his first meeting with Rittenhouse: “I told him when I first met him, if he was looking for someone to go on a crusade, I was not his lawyer.”

Wood told the AP on Saturday that he is not a criminal attorney and has not been involved in the civil side of things since he was asked to withdraw. He said the foundation he heads, the Fightback Foundation, raised funds for Rittenhouse’s bail and publicly stated that the case was a Second Amendment issue.

“I wasn’t a lawyer pushing for a reason,” Wood said. “Fightback has a mission that includes arms and the right to self-defense.”

Read Also:  Images: Sunday’s The Way We Were Car Show in Ballston Spa (8 photos) | The Daily Gazette

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