The judge presiding over the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse criticized the media’s “totally bizarre” coverage of the case on Wednesday.
Judge Bruce Schroeder made the comments as prosecutors attempted to play video footage from the night Rittenhouse allegedly shot three people, killing two of them, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter riot.
The defense argued that the footage, which featured narration from the person filming, included “editorial comments,” but prosecutors said that the commentary helped describe the scene and showed Rittenhouse’s “state of mind.”
“That’s hearsay,” the judge told the prosecution. “If it’s not for the truth of the matter asserted, it’s irrelevant.”
Schroeder then asked the jury to leave the courtroom to have a sidebar with the prosecution and defense. During the sidebar, Schroeder criticized the media for how it has talked about the trial.
“There are people on the media, on reputable sites, that are saying things that are totally bizarre,” he said. He appeared to reference media criticism of himself after ruling that prosecutors cannot refer to the three men Rittenhouse allegedly shot as “victims.”
“This was on CNN — Jeffrey Toobin and another attorney there — and a comment was made that the ruling was incomprehensible, and I think they obviously are not familiar with this rule,” he said.
Schroeder also cited on Wednesday the media’s coverage of a 1998 trial he presided over, where a man named Mark Jensen was convicted of poisoning his wife, WTMJ-TV reported. A new trial has been ordered for that case.
“I’ve talked about inaccurate things out of the media, and one of the things that I’ve read over and over and over again is about how I messed up” in the Jensen case, Schroeder said. “Actually, I had it 100% correct in the first place.”
The judge also argued that the intense media coverage and the country’s divided reaction to the case meant it was crucial the public trusted the court’s findings.
“I’m gonna comment about the media again because there was a gentleman on TV night before last who said this is the most divisive case in the country to date,” Schroeder said. “So anything that undermines public confidence in what happens here is very important.”
“It’s important for this town, it’s important for this country, to have people have confidence in the result of this trial, whatever it is,” he added. “And I don’t care what it is.”
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