Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over the high-profile trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in Wisconsin, criticized media coverage of the trial on Wednesday, calling it “frightening.”
He even said that going forward, he might rethink allowing trials he presides over to be televised live.
“I’m going to think long and hard about live television at trial again, next time,” the state’s longest-serving circuit judge said, according to Yahoo News.
“I’ve always been a firm believer in it because I believe the people should be able to see what’s going on. But when I see what’s being done, it’s really quite frightening,” he added.
Schroeder came under fire from many observers for letting Rittenhouse, who is facing homicide charges for allegedly shooting and killing two men during riots last year in Kenosha, “pull six numbers at random from a raffle drum to determine which jurors would serve as alternates and be excused while the remaining 12 moved on to deliberations,” Yahoo reported.
Schroeder detailed his reasoning for allowing Rittenhouse, who argues self-defense, to pick the numbers from the drum, as opposed to letting a court clerk choose alternate jurors at random or doing it himself.
He recounted a case with a black defendant and just one black prospective juror, who ended up being an alternate due to a random draw by the court clerk
“It was a bad optic, I thought. I think people feel better when they have control,” Schroeder said, according to NBC News. “So ever since that case, I have had an almost universal policy of having the defendant do the picks.”
Earlier in the week, Schroeder said he has been letting defendants conduct the random draw for two decades.
“Somebody asked from the media, and I have no idea who, inquired about the method of selection of those to be struck from the jury,” he said.
“That’s been the practice of this court for, I’m going to say 20 years at least, that I’ve been doing that, that the defendant in a criminal case is the one who makes the selections from the tumbler as to the jurors to be dismissed.”
The judge’s critics were attempting to “undermine the result of the trial,” said Schroeder, who also slammed the media’s “grossly irresponsible handling of what comes out of this trial.”
“I never had a complaint about it before and I think I never had a complaint about it here,” he said Wednesday. “But some people seem to be dissatisfied with that, people who want to undermine the result of the trial.”