The case went to the jury on Tuesday. Essentially the most critical prices in opposition to Rittenhouse are first-degree intentional murder, first-degree reckless murder, tried first-degree intentional murder and first-degree recklessly endangering public security.
Schroeder, who serves on the Kenosha County Circuit Courtroom, appears properly conscious that he would come beneath scrutiny. He has referenced the media consideration in the leadup to the trial and fearful about the potential for the extremely charged protection to affect the final result. He has additionally made some extent to clarify his rationale for sure rulings, above and past what a decide would possibly do ordinarily.
However even small particulars — comparable to Schroeder’s cellphone ringtone of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” — have develop into fodder for authorized observers and outsiders tuned in to the proceedings. Judges sometimes have appreciable leeway over how they conduct their courtrooms, and their choices usually form the course of trials in methods huge and small.
Forward of the trial’s begin date, Schroeder barred attorneys in the case from utilizing the time period “sufferer” to consult with the two males fatally shot by the teenage Rittenhouse. The decide decided that the phrase was “loaded” and will shade jurors’ evaluation of Rittenhouse, although Schroeder permitted phrases comparable to “rioters” and “looters” — offered they had been supported by proof.
“The phrase ‘sufferer’ is a loaded, loaded phrase,” Schroeder stated on Oct. 26. “And I feel ‘alleged sufferer’ is a cousin to it.”
Most dramatically Schroeder quickly halted the trial and excoriated the lead prosecutor, exterior of jurors’ earshot, after he veered right into a line of inquiry concerning a video of Rittenhouse allegedly expressing a need to shoot looters that the decide had beforehand expressed misgivings about. Schroeder has expressed harsh phrases to prosecutors on a number of different events throughout the trial.
The decide additionally raised eyebrows when his overture to commemorate Veterans Day resulted in courtroom applause for a protection witness who Schroeder famous was a veteran. (He additionally likened jury obligation to the army draft throughout the choice course of).
Whereas a lot of the exterior criticism of Schroeder has come from those that say he has been too favorable to the protection, not all of the decide’s rulings have minimize in that course.
He dismissed a white juror who was overheard making a joke about the capturing of Jacob Blake — the Black man whose capturing by a white Kenosha police officer left him paralyzed and set off intense protests that precipitated the deadly episode for which Rittenhouse is on trial. Schroeder agreed with prosecutors that the juror’s continued presence on the panel “would significantly undermine the final result” of the trial.
Different moments have had much less direct bearing on the case, however have nonetheless encapsulated the uncommon circumstances gripping the nation at current.
At one level throughout jury choice, Schroeder was beset by a coughing match earlier than assuring these in the room that he had been vaccinated — together with a booster dose — in opposition to Covid-19. And final week the decide made a quip referencing the nation’s ongoing provide chain woes as the court docket headed right into a recess for lunch.
“I hope the Asian meals isn’t coming … isn’t on a kind of boats from Lengthy Seashore Harbor,” Schroeder stated.
That comment upset some Asian American activists, who felt it denigrated their tradition, and others given the racial dynamics that encompass the occasions in the Rittenhouse case.
Schroeder was first appointed to the Kenosha County Circuit Courtroom in 1983 by Democratic Gov. Anthony Earl, received election a 12 months later and has been reelected each six years in the many years since — sometimes unopposed. He’s the longest-serving energetic circuit decide in the state.
He obtained each his undergraduate and regulation levels from Marquette College in Milwaukee. Schroeder labored as a prosecutor in Kenosha for a number of years in the Nineteen Seventies upon graduating from regulation faculty earlier than getting into non-public observe.