The lead prosecutor in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse suggested that the judge overseeing the proceedings was being unfair Thursday, one day after the two clashed in the courtroom.
Rittenhouse, an Illinois native, allegedly fatally shot two individuals and injured another during protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., last summer.
Judge Bruce Schroeder asked the jury to leave the room during Thursday's proceedings to settle a dispute after the prosecution objected to testimony from John Black, a use-of-force witness called by the defense. The prosecution claimed that parts of Black’s testimony moved outside the scope of what he was allowed to discuss.
Schroeder, while discussing the dispute, asked Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger why he was making a specific face.
“I am a little bit challenged when you say — is there something that I'm saying that draws the face that you're making?” Schroeder asked Binger.
Binger at first appeared apprehensive, prompting Schroeder to jump in and say “go ahead, say what you have to say.”
“I have to say, your Honor, yesterday, I was the target of your ire for disregarding your orders. Today the defense is disregarding your order,” Binger said.
Thomas Binger, the lead prosecutor in Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial in Wisconsin, accused the judge of unfairness a day after being excoriated for trying to introduce inadmissible evidence and questioning the teenager's right to silence https://t.co/jDDwrJHwJi pic.twitter.com/10cu2ivTXk— Reuters (@Reuters) November 11, 2021
Binger was referring to clashes with Schroeder on Wednesday, which led the judge to admonish him twice in the courtroom.
First, the prosecutor questioned Rittenhouse about why he decided to stay silent after the incident until his trial, which Schroeder said was a “grave constitutional violation.”
Later in the day, a second spat occurred when Binger appeared to try and ask Rittenhouse a question about a matter that the judge previously said would not be permitted in the courtroom.
Binger apologized for the line of questioning, but the judge still hit the attorney over his question.
“Don’t get brazen with me,” Schroeder said Wednesday. “You knew very well that attorneys can't go into these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without asking outside the presence of the jury to do so. So don’t give me that.”
Schroeder ultimately decided to allow the testimony to go forward Thursday after the exchange with Binger.
Binger, however, tried to bring his suggestion of unfairness back into focus.
“Yesterday, as I said, I was under the court's ire,” the prosecutor said the judge interrupted.
“No I don't want to talk about, why don’t we just —” Schroeder said.
“Well, I think it’s a fundamental fairness issue, your Honor,” Binger responded. The judge allowed him to proceed.
“If I'm being held to obey the court's orders I'm asking that the defense be held to that, too. This is something we litigated at a daubert hearing, we spent time on this,” Binger said.
“You know, I am going to interrupt you. Then I’m going to let you talk again. But I was talking yesterday about the constitution of the United States, and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it for 50 years. That’s not what we’re talking about here today,” Schroeder responded.
Binger said that “if the shoe were on the other foot” and the prosecution had tried to ask a similar line of questioning, there would be a “kerfuffle.”
“This is a notice issue to the state, we have not been provided proper notice of this. And clearly if the shoe were on the other foot and we tried something like this, there would be quite a kerfuffle about that,” he added.
The two men went back and forth for a short while longer before the jurors reentered the courtroom and the trial resumed.
Rittenhouse, now 18 years old, is on trial for six criminal counts related to his conduct during riots last summer in Kenosha, which erupted after the police shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man.
Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, 36.
He has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of reckless endangerment and carrying a firearm illegally as a minor.
The teenager appeared before the jury on Wednesday, offering an at-times emotional testimony of the events that transpired on Aug. 25 amid the demonstrations. Rittenhouse was 17 years old at the time.