By Charles M. Strauss
Note: This article was written before closing arguments.
If facts mattered, the jury would find Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts, except for possession by a minor. However, facts don’t matter. If facts mattered, he would not have been charged in the first place. So, there is always the possibility that the jurors are a bunch of nitwits who believe in their hearts that possessing an AR15 is prima facie proof of homicidal intent, or that going into a danger zone with a gun is prima facie proof of homicidal intent. (Except for Grosskreutz, of course. Rittenhouse’s lawyer never asked him why he brought a gun into the situation. Why not?)
There is a fairly high likelihood that the jury will find him not guilty on all counts (except for possession by a minor), for two reasons:
However, at the last minute, the prosecutor proposed reduced charges, so jurors could feel sorry for the prosecutor, and want to give him a consolation prize. Or they could be afraid of rioters/retribution, and want to throw the wolves a bone to take heat off themselves. Or they could think “I think he’s not guilty, but surely the DA would not have brought this case if there was nothing there, right? My government would never do such a thing. He must be guilty of something.” It’s easy for them to say “I don’t think he’s guilty, but let’s give him ‘only’ ten years in prison instead of life in prison. He’ll only be 28 when he gets out, so no big deal.”
About the Prosecutor
It’s hard to believe he is that incompetent. Any lawyer knows Thou Shalt Not bring up the subject of invoking the right to remain silent. You can get suspended for that. And on and on. This guy is stunningly horrible. But, is he really that bad, or is he throwing the case on purpose? It’ll be interesting to see if he brings up verboten material in his closing argument, causing the defense lawyer to object (something rarely done) or more likely, causing the judge to interrupt him.
About the Defense Lawyer
Not bad, but not great. Did a good job getting the witnesses to say the right things. (Especially Grosskreutz.) Did a great job prepping Rittenhouse. But there are a couple of things I think he could have done better.
About the Judge
He knows that this is a bulls__t case, which never should have been brought. He has left open the defense motion to dismiss. I would not be too surprised if, after closing arguments, the judge says “I have made a decision regarding the motion to dismiss. The prosecutor’s conduct has been so egregious that I grant the motion to dismiss, with prejudice. Rittenhouse is a free man, and I will be recommending that the Wisconsin Bar investigate the prosecutor’s unethical misconduct.” I would especially expect that if the prosecutor steps over the line again during his closing argument.
The judge really would prefer to pass the buck to the jury, and let them come back with a not guilty verdict. So, if he reads the jury as being inclined to not guilty, he may let the jury decide the case, knowing that if they do find Rittenhouse guilty, he has that motion to dismiss in his back pocket, and he knows he can issue a “judgment notwithstanding the verdict” – effectively overruling the jury. That is almost never used, but I’m thinking this guy is 75 years old. He is ready to retire, and he is pissed off at what he sees as a gross miscarriage of justice. “Let the heathen rage” – his pension is secure. He can move to Florida, and he can supplement that fat pension with consulting expert fees on Fox News and elsewhere.
Because of the recently introduced lesser charges, I revise my prediction: the jury finds Rittenhouse guilty on a lesser charge. In my opinion, that would be a terrible injustice; this is as clear a case of self-defense as ever there was. But, sometimes injustice prevails. Sometimes the bad guys win.
Now let’s just wait and see how wrong I was.