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Friday, December 3, 2021

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case sat for 23 hours without a verdict

KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Jurors on the Derek Choven murder in Minneapolis deliberated for 10 hours in April. In 1995, the OJ Simpson jury delivered a verdict in less than four hours.

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case has been talking for 23 hours – and continues to count.

Three days later, the seven women and five men who decide Mr. Rittenhouse’s fate in the Kenosha courtroom have yet to reach consensus – a startlingly long discussion that suggests jurors may be at odds with important decisions before them.

Mr Rittenhouse, 18, is facing trial on first-degree murder and other charges after he shot two men and maimed another during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020. He faces life imprisonment.

Mark Richards, Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyer, appeared bewildered by the length of the deliberations after the court retired Thursday. “They are either working to reach a consensus – they may be dead – even shattered,” Richards said of the jury as he left the courthouse.

There was little certainty throughout the building, but there was a lot of speculation.

Mr. Richards said that when he looked at the faces of the jury as they sat in the courtroom at the end of the day, he thought, “They divide six by six.”

Discussions began on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the jury sent notes to Judge Bruce Schroeder and requested a video so that they could review footage of all three footage. On Thursday, there were few clues to the nature of their discussions, which take place behind closed doors at the Kenosha County Courthouse, a limestone building that has been the focus of demonstrations since the police shooting of Jacob Blake 15 months ago.

The length of the discussion may indicate the complexity of the charges that the jury must analyze. In many murder trials, jurors are asked to decide whether a defendant is guilty of one count. But in the case of Mr. Rittenhouse, the picture is complex.

He faces five criminal cases: one count of first-degree murder in connection with the death of 26-year-old Anthony Huber; reckless murder in the first degree following the death of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum; one episode of an attempted first-degree murder during the execution of Gaige Grosskreutz; and two counts of reckless danger in the first degree for shooting in the direction of Richie McGinnis and an unknown person.

By the end of this week, frustration was building around Kenosha with the lawsuit, which since it began on November 1 has restricted traffic in the city center and cast a shadow over the city.

In the Kenosha residential area, the multinational area most affected by civil unrest following the August 2020 police shootings, residents and business owners said they were closely following every stage of the trial. They knew the details: the charge against Mr Rittenhouse, which Judge Schroeder decided this week to drop (illegal possession of weapons); how many protesters gathered on the steps of the courthouse on Thursday (several dozen); and even the name of a reputable jury defense counsel (Joe-Ellan Dimitrius).

Claude Hamilton, owner of Sir Claude’s hairdresser, sipped coffee on Thursday and said he was anxiously awaiting the verdict.

He said he saw double racial standards in the case, believing that Mr. Rittenhouse, a white man, was allowed to roam the streets of downtown Kenosha with a semi-automatic rifle more freely than a black teenager would.

“If he was a man of color, he would have been convicted long ago,” said Mr. Hamilton.

The possibility of a wrongful trial loomed over the debate as Judge Schroeder had yet to rule on two defense motions seeking to cancel the trial. The motions allege that the prosecutor asked inappropriate questions during the cross-examination of Mr. Rittenhouse and was unable to deliver a high-quality version of the video to the defense team prior to trial. Wisconsin defense lawyers said prosecutors could appeal if a judge ruled a wrong trial.

On Thursday, Judge Schroeder summoned lawyers from both sides to his courtroom and said that an MSNBC producer had been watching the bus carrying the jury home from the courthouse the night before. The judge called it “an extremely serious matter” and said he forbids anyone connected with the cable network from visiting the courthouse.

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But the judge sounded cheerful when he gathered the jury in his courtroom just after 4:00 pm, told them they could bring his instructions to the jury home on Thursday night as they asked, and wished them good evening.

There are high-profile precedents of both acquittals and convictions after lengthy discussions.

The only clues to the jury’s minds were their requests to review excerpts from the extensive video footage shown at the trial and to obtain additional copies of the jury’s instructions.

It usually takes a jury several days to either acquit or convict. A Florida jury weighed the charges against George Zimmerman for over 16 hours before acquitting him in 2013 of Trayvon Martin’s murder, including second-degree murder.

It took a jury in California about 35 hours over nine days to acquit actor Robert Blake in 2005 for the murder of his wife.

“You can’t catch anything in terms of the length of the discussion, other than the fact that it is very stressful for the parties,” said Ion Mayne, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Law.

Mr Main noted that Mr Rittenhouse’s defense sought to limit the number of times a jury could review videos from the chaotic night of 2020, while prosecutors advocated unrestricted viewing. It makes sense, Mr Main said, because Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyers would likely want the jury to focus on their client’s testimony. Ultimately, the judge sided with the prosecutor’s office and handed the jury a laptop containing the requested videos, which allowed them to watch as they pleased.

As the hours passed in the Rittenhouse case, long periods of time without a word from the jury, the parties were summoned back to court to argue on motions and other issues.

Past tense and the jury’s request for video evidence suggest the panel is taking a rigorous, evidence-based approach, said Valerie Hans, a professor at Cornell Law School, which has scrutinized the jury system.

Jurors sometimes use a verdict-based approach, with people expressing their opinions early in the discussion, she said. “If you immediately say“ guilty ”or“ not guilty, ”then you have publicly committed yourself to” holding a position that is unlikely to change, “said Ms Hans.

She added that this approach is more likely to lead to a jury stalemate.

Not knowing what the jury thinks matters, said John A. Birdsall, a Milwaukee lawyer who is not involved in the Rittenhouse trial, but endured jury trials that lasted up to a week.

He said he wasted those gaps trying to work on his other things.

“It’s very nervous. You try to parse each question to understand where they are, ”he said. “But of course this is just guesswork.”

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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