Rittenhouse judge warns prospective jury of 'deliberately biased' media coverage

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The Wisconsin judge presiding over the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse lamented to the prospective jurors during the jury selection phase about “irresponsible” news reports, including some that are “deliberately biased.” 

Opening statements began Tuesday morning at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the case involving the 18-year-old, who faces up to life in prison if convicted. Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding a third when he was 17, during a night of destruction and protests in the Wisconsin city. 

 Kyle Rittenhouse listens as jurors are asked questions by the judge during jury selection at the Kenosha County Courthouse  on November 01, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 
(Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

The events of Aug. 25, 2020, prompted a media frenzy for weeks and months and bled even into the political campaigns of the 2020 Presidential Election. Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder repeatedly warned potential jurors that their ultimate decision must not be influenced by politics, nor should they be by swayed by what has been reported by the media about the case so far. 

After explaining that the First Amendment protects the right of a free press, Schroeder said: “The price paid for having a free press is a lot of irresponsible and sloppy journalism.”

Schroeder noted that these media reporters were written by journalists who were not afforded access to the evidence that the jurors would have. He added that his speech was not “an attack on the media.” 

Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder addresses the jury pool at the start of jury selection on the first day of trial for Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wis., Circuit Court Monday Nov. 1, 2021.  Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year.   (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)
(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

“I’ve read things about this case that were perfect, perfect, perfectly stated what had happened in this court. And there were things, I think ‘was I in the courtroom when that happened?’” he continued. “I’m not bashing anybody, but I am going to talk about what you need to do, what you need to be thinking about if you are picked to hear this case, and how much reliance you can put on things that may be just sloppy, which is a vast amount of it.”

The jurist went on: “Some of it that is deliberately biased that’s out there, and sometimes from respectable media outlets.”

Kyle Rittenhouse appears at a pretrial hearing in Kenosha Circuit Court, Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, in advance of his trial which is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, in Kenosha, Wis. Rittenhouse shot three people, killing two of them, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha in August 2020. (Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP)
(Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP)

During the roughly 12-hour jury selection, Schroeder also stressed to the pool that the proceedings were “not a political trial.”

Rittenhouse was charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, reckless endangering and illegal possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. Lawyers have argued repeatedly that he was acting in self-defense.

His trial is expected to last at least two weeks. The panel of jurors is made up of 11 women and nine men. 

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report. 

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