Kyle Rittenhouse’s Call of Duty habit and post-arrest silence aren’t proof of his guilt

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Kyle Rittenhouse is the key witness in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. And today the 18-year-old took a stand, testifying that he acted in self-defense when he shot three men, eventually killing two, during the riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 25, 2020.

The testimony was likely the culmination of the case against Rittenhouse, who is facing several murder charges and has become a symbol of almost everything the viewer wants to see. For many on the left, he is a vigilante who supports racist structures; to some on the right, a protector who has filled a void left by the police.

But on Monday there was another fixture in court: Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, who – no matter how you feel about Rittenhouse – should serve to remind you how pitifully low prosecutors will lower themselves as they pursue a conviction.

Binger’s cross-examination at the Rittenhouse should have been a great moment, as it was, but not for the reasons Binger would have hoped for. He began with an example of Rittenhouse’s interest in purchasing an AR-15, stating that Rittenhouse must have rejected a pistol or rifle because of his call of Duty habit. There are some problems here: players use many different types of weapons in simulation games, including pistols and shotguns. But the more strained is the implication that playing violent video games somehow makes you a killer, or more likely to kill someone – a hysterical hypothesis which is Not based On done.

The interrogation was desperate, but it quickly went from breathless to potentially unconstitutional as Binger confronted Judge Bruce Schroeder multiple times after the former noted Rittenhouse’s post-arrest silence with the insinuation that it somehow indicated his own. guilt.

“I was stunned when he began his examination by commenting on the defendant’s silence after the arrest,” said the judge. “This is the basic law. It has been the basic law in this country” for decades, adding, “I don’t know what you are doing.”

They also objected to Binger’s attempt to present to the jury evidence that Schroeder had already claimed was likely inadmissible. The chain of events prompted Rittenhouse’s defense to call for an overturning of the bias trial – meaning the state would not be allowed to bring the same charges – which Schroeder said he would take under advice. “Don’t be cheeky to me,” Schroeder told Binger. “When you say you acted in good faith, I don’t believe it.”

Binger is not the first prosecutor to receive such an administration.

“Prosecutors’ immunity, which essentially provides absolute immunity to prosecutors, has essentially been a perverse incentive in this type of situation,” says Anya Bidwell, a lawyer at the Institute for Justice public interest law firm. Reason. “Prosecutors – especially when they are acting inside a courtroom, as in this case – are 100% immune from any kind of civil liability, so they can lie, they can bend. [the facts] however they want … and they will not be held accountable. “A recent example: a prosecutor in Louisiana was given immunity after working to bust rape charges against a deputy director of the Louisiana State Penitentiary.

That case remained low-key. High-profile cases like Rittenhouse’s tend to pay a wave of brief attention to the criminal justice system, at which point people may find their preconceived notions questioned. This is doubly true here with the people on either side of the aisle claiming Rittenhouse’s actions as indicative of any narrative they want to believe.

Consider JD Vance, for example, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Ohio. Binger is a “lawless thug”, him She said—Unexpected words from someone who touted the importance of law and order. And then there was conservative commentator Matt Walsh, who … tweeted that the prosecutor is a “corrupt piece of shit blatantly violating the constitution” as well as “a raging asshole.”

“Based on what I’ve seen, objectively it looks like the prosecution really messed this up. I think it’s a fair assessment. But I’m not the slightest bit sure people like JD Vance and Matt Walsh and anyone else just come to that decision. through neutral civil libertarian principles, ”says Jay Schweikert, a researcher on the Cato Institute’s Criminal Justice Project. “On the other hand, I’ve seen tons of nominally progressive people who care a lot about criminal justice in their daily work, yet seem to scream for a conviction, and are convinced that whatever the judge is doing to dismiss prosecutor is because it’s racist. and biased “.

After the trial is over, both sides are likely to retreat to their respective corners. But a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial shouldn’t depend on how understanding he is, and a prosecutor’s contempt for the rules is by no means limited to the assistant district attorney of Kenosha County, Wisconsin.

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