Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial was broadcast live for everyone to follow. The judge is no longer a fan of the cameras in the courtroom, but legal experts say he is wrong.

Kyle Rittenhouse.Sean Krajacic / Pool via Getty Images

  • Court TV broadcast the Kyle Rittenhouse trial live.

  • The judge in charge of the case expressed reservations about his decision to allow the trial to be televised.

  • However, legal experts told Insider they believe the cameras provide an excellent overview of the criminal justice system.

Americans were able to log in and follow the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Wisconsin every day, but the judge presiding over the case appears to regret allowing cameras in the courtroom.

Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder said on Wednesday he was going to “think long and hard about live television during the trial,” saying “when I see what’s going on it’s really pretty scary” .

One of Schroeder’s main complaints was that he had been criticized for allowing Rittenhouse to participate in the jury reduction process. By the end of oral argument, there were more jurors than needed for final deliberation, so Schroeder asked Rittenhouse to choose cards from a box that matched each juror, ruling out additional jurors.

Social media users seized this moment as an example of Schroeder giving Rittenhouse preferential treatment. But the judge said it is something he is doing to make sure the defendants are satisfied that the process of removing jurors has indeed been hit and miss.

Legal experts who spoke to Insider disagreed with Schroeder’s anti-camera sentiment, saying trial television offers transparency in contentious cases, as well as an opportunity to educate Americans on their criminal justice system. Schroeder did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Playing for the cameras

Television cameras are mostly banned in US federal courts. Federal judges argued that “live broadcasts, in particular, distract trial participants, prejudge trial outcomes and thereby deprive defendants of a fair trial,” wrote Ruth Ann Strickland, a former public policy professor, in 2009.

“Some witnesses fidget nervously in front of the cameras, possibly damaging their credibility with jurors,” Strickland wrote. “Opponents also argue that the broadcast of the trials leads lawyers to appear in front of the camera, which decreases the decorum of the courtroom.”

However, cameras are permitted in one form or another in courtrooms in all states – and in Wisconsin, cameras have been permitted since 1979.

Paul E. Bucher, a defense attorney based in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, told Insider it never bothered him that high-profile cases in the state were televised. He said a camera is usually allowed in the courtroom, tucked away in the back where lawyers don’t even realize it’s there.

However, Bucher said there were concerns that anyone speaking at a televised trial could show it to cameras. He cited the example of lead prosecutor in the Rittenhouse case, Thomas Binger, wielding Rittenhouse’s AR-15 rifle during closing arguments. Bucher said he had done similar gun demonstrations in court before, but never put his finger on the trigger.

Thomas binger

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger holds Kyle Rittenhouse’s gun as he delivers the state’s final argument in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 15, 2021.Sean Krajacic-Pool / Getty Images

While Bucher said he could understand Schroeder’s concern about cameras, he said the judge “should realize that this is the world we live in today, and that the Supreme Court of Wisconsin will never object and block the cameras in the courtroom. “

A tool for transparency and education

Daniel Maxwell, a prominent criminal justice professor at New Haven University, told Insider that while members of the public are allowed to appear in person in court, he doesn’t see why cameras shouldn’t be on either. authorized.

“We want transparency, we want people to know what’s going on,” Maxwell said. “What better place to learn how criminal justice works or doesn’t work than to see what’s going on in a courtroom?” “

When asked if the broadcast of Rittenhouse’s trial shed light on why the criminal justice system was not working, Manxwell said cameras showed there were “a few bumps in the road” , citing the example of arguments that Schroeder and the prosecution addressed technical issues.

Janine Geske, a law professor at Marquette University who served as a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice for five years, said she believed Schroeder’s newfound distrust of cameras in the courtroom had more to do with the reviews he had read about her in the media.

Judge Bruce Schroeder

Judge Bruce SchroederAssociated press

Criticism is “part of being a public figure,” Geske said, but said she disagreed “that the answer is to shut down the media.”

“I understand that none of us, including me, like to read or hear reviews about how we do things, why we do things. I understand,” she told Insider. “But that’s no reason not to show it on TV. We are elected public officials and I think the public has a right to watch and comment on the way we do it.”

“I think for people who cannot come and sit in the courtroom, being able to see it on television is an important part of our democracy,” said Geske.

Geske said she hopes cameras will become even more common in the courtroom, saying she is “looking forward to the day the Supreme Court allows cameras to enter.”

“I think we all benefit from seeing how justice is served,” Geske said.

Read the original article on Insider

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