The judge presiding over the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old accused of shooting and killing two rioters last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, blasted the media, specifically CNN’s chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, for spreading misinformation about the case.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder warned that the media’s characterization of the case would undermine the public’s confidence in the court’s eventual ruling, and slammed pundits such as Toobin for weighing in on the case that they clearly know nothing about.
“There are people on the media, on reputable sites, that are saying things that are totally bizarre,” he said.
Schroeder referred to a ruling he made last month that said the prosecution could not use the word “victim” to refer to the people Rittenhouse shot since they were pursuing him at the time they were shot. He also ruled the defense could use the words “arsonists,” “looters,” or “rioters” to describe the persons since they were participating in a riot and looting local businesses.
After the ruling, Toobin went on CNN to dismiss it as “weird.”
“What’s very weird is allowing this extremely pejorative — assuming the conclusion — words of ‘rioters’ and ‘looters,’ which all-in-all should help Rittenhouse’s defense a great deal,” Toobin said at the time.
“[It’s] a very troubling situation because, again, using [words such as arsonists,” “looters,” or “rioters”] suggests that Rittenhouse was justified in what he was doing, because these were bad people that he shot,” he continued.
“They were committing crimes, they were out there looting, they were out there being arsonists, when that is very much in dispute in the trial, just, you know, what these people were doing,” Toobin said.
But Schroeder argued his ruling made complete sense because its purpose is to prevent the jury from becoming unfairly prejudiced against the defendant.
“This was on CNN — Jeffrey Toobin and another attorney there — and a comment was made that the ruling was incomprehensible, and I think they obviously are not familiar with this rule,” the judge said.
Schroeder went on to take aim at the rest of the media, accusing reporters of needlessly stoking outrage about the case.
“It’s important for this town and it’s important for this country to have people have confidence in the result of this trial, whatever it is. And I don’t care what it is,” he said.