[PDF] Rittenhouse Jury Instructions PDF

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Rittenhouse Jury Instructions PDF
Rittenhouse Jury Instructions PDF
No. Of Pages: 36
PDF Size: 2.29 MB
Language: English
Category: Government
Rittenhouse Jury Instructions PDF

The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, who was already under fire for numerous acts in the case, came under fire again on Monday for his handling of jury instructions.

Chicago — The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, who was already under fire for numerous acts in the case, came under fire again on Monday for his handling of jury instructions.

Judge Bruce Schroeder, who was supposed to write final directions on Sunday, listened to arguments from counsel until the very last minute on Monday while he amended the instructions on the bench. Then, around halfway through, he called the jury out to consult with counsel about making the instructions more explicit.

The final-minute action concentrated on a critical procedure: writing instructions for jurors on how to assess whether Rittenhouse is guilty of each accusation levelled against him. Schroeder dropped a charge of being a child in possession of a handgun on Monday, just hours before the case was assigned to jurors.

Attorneys and judges always carefully review instructions. The value of the document is evident in a case complicated by many accusations, victims, and Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim.

Schroeder, Rittenhouse’s lawyers, and prosecutors discussed the directives all day Friday, maintained writing contact over the weekend, and still had complaints and concerns to work out Monday morning before the 36 pages were ready for Schroeder to read aloud to jurors.

At one point, Schroeder complained about the complex instructions: “I just feel bad about providing this type of material,” he stated outside the jury’s presence.

Prosecutors constantly reminded Schroeder not to deviate from the model instructions and expressed disagreement with the judge’s preferred language for various processes. At one point, prosecutor Thomas Binger informed Schroeder, “That’s not the law.”

For decades, legal experts have disputed how to make instructions more clear to jurors who are unfamiliar with the antiquated and complicated terminology of laws and criminal codes. A group of judges in Wisconsin develops model jury instructions that counsel and individual trial judges may adopt as-is or change for unique situations.

Those decisions, like most in court, are made by the trial judge, according to Sara Gordon, a law professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas who has studied juries.

Gordon said that she would nearly always argue for additional explanation to jurors since it is typically the only chance to clarify the law, as jury queries while they deliberate are barred.

“The trial itself is about delivering to the jury all of the facts via testimony and evidence,” she said. “The jury must apply the law to all of those facts in the deliberation chamber.” “That is a challenging task.”

Schroeder started detailing in his own words how jurors should debate principal and minor accusations around 30 minutes into his reading of the directions to jurors, then became quiet.

“I’ve found myself in the middle of a phrase, and I don’t like it,” he said. He then switched off his microphone and motioned for counsel to come to the front of the courtroom.

He remarked after the jurors had left the room: “I’ve been working with the instructions all weekend, and we discussed them through email, and then I started reading them, and tiny things were hitting me as I read them.”

Phyllis Kotey, a clinical professor at Florida International University’s College of Law and a retired judge, believes that carefully scrutinising and revising jury instructions, as well as stopping in the middle of an instruction to correct a potential error, are prudent steps to ensure jurors have a clear understanding of the law.

Kotey refused to comment, particularly on Schroeder’s approach, citing judicial ethics as prohibiting her from commenting on an ongoing case or another judge.

According to her, judges often begin reading instructions aloud and notice typos or problems.

“You don’t want to simply modify it without hearing from the other side,” she said. “That provides a new foundation for an appeal.” Then the best thing to do is to come to a halt and speak it out. “

Adding an explanation beyond a court’s model or pattern requirements, according to Kotey, might be risky.

“There are standard instructions for a purpose, and improper jury instructions might be the foundation for an appeal.” She said

During Rittenhouse’s trial, the longstanding judge’s judicial rulings and eccentric demeanour have been severely scrutinised.

Rittenhouse Jury Instructions PDF
Rittenhouse Jury Instructions PDF

During jury selection, Schroeder amused prospective jurors with trivia and yelled at the lead prosecutor when he believed his cross-examination of Rittenhouse broke legal lines. Some legal observers chastised the judge for leading a round of applause on Veterans Day while knowing that the sole self-identified veteran in the room was a defence witness.

He has regularly joked about his lack of technical ability and garnered even more attention last week when he told jurors he hoped “the Asian food isn’t coming, it isn’t on one of those boats in Long Beach Harbor.” Observers saw the comment, which seemed to be a reference to a cargo ship backlog observed on the West Coast, as dubious at best and bigoted at worst.

Schroeder seems to be aware of the heightened attention. He joked on Monday that he wished fewer people knew his email address. And, when reviewing the day’s agenda with lawyers, he stated:

“And I’m not going to say anything about lunch.”


This item first appeared on November 15, 2021. It was corrected on November 16, 2021, to correct the surname of Phyllis Kotey, a clinical professor at Florida International University’s College of Law.

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