The recent trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has put the spotlight on the inner workings of our judicial system.
That the Rittenhouse case was brought to trial in the first place is compelling proof that our judicial system is wrecked. The Rittenhouse trial was significant particularly because it brought to light how mischief caused by unchecked prosecutorial discretion is exacerbated by media and political influence.
Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, was accused of shooting three demonstrators – killing two of them – during a night of unrest that erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The catalyst for the unrest was the police officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake was shot seven times in the back while police officers attempted to place him under arrest in August 2020.
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz while guarding a used car lot with an AR-15-style rifle in downtown Kenosha on August 25, 2020.
Joseph Rosenbaum, a bipolar homeless man with deep psychological problems, was on heavy medication. Previously, Rosenbaum had spent more than a decade in prison in Arizona after being convicted of sexual conduct with a minor. Rosenbaum knocked Rittenhouse down and chased him, ignoring the fact that Rittenhouse had a weapon.
Gaige Grosskreutz, a felon in possession of a firearm, admitted on the stand that he had aimed his gun at Rittenhouse first. Anthony Huber suffered from a mental disorder and attacked Rittenhouse with his skateboard, wielding it like a baseball bat.
In the State of Wisconsin it is legal even for a 17-year-old to have a firearm, and that is the reason the gun charge against Rittenhouse was dismissed.
Just like in the notorious Richard Jewell case, the media decided to cancel Rittenhouse, and the district attorneys moved forward with criminal charges. After an extradition battle, Rittenhouse was charged with felony homicide, felony attempted homicide, and other charges.
Rittenhouse spent more than 80 days in jail, including several weeks in a Kenosha slammer that he claimed didn’t have running water.
Recently we learned that progressives have taken steps to effect political change by reshaping America’s justice system. Liberal activist Billionaire George Soros has moved more than $3 million into seven local district attorney campaigns in six states over the past year or so; this is a sum that exceeds the total spent on the 2016 presidential campaign by all but a handful of super-donors.
Eighty-five percent of all district attorneys run for reelection unopposed. Prosecutorial discretion gives district attorneys a huge say in the charges and sentences that defendants face. However, reform efforts have not historically focused on managing or assessing that frightening power. Prosecutors are often influenced by the media and politics.
Yet, what’s of greater concern is their broad discretion and lack of accountability. In their rush to appease the media that had already condemned its target, Kenosha prosecutors presented a genuinely weak case.
Rittenhouse’s prosecutor was Thomas Binger. Binger ran unsuccessfully for DA in Racine County, the county just north of Kenosha, in 2016. Judge Schroeder, who presided over the Rittenhouse trial, repeatedly excoriated Binger for overreaching and stated that he was "astonished" that the assistant DA would comment on Rittenhouse's pre-trial silence.
"When you say you were acting in good faith, I don't believe you," Judge Schroeder told Binger.
The jury system, as I have written in Investors Business Daily, has become something of a farce, often meting out random decisions, not predicated on applicable law and devoid of common sense.
Juries today are comprised of 12 people who really don't want to be there and about as often don't really understand the issues or the law. Additionally, they can be easily manipulated by inept judges, coached witnesses and treacherous and unethical lawyers.
Our judicial system desperately needs a method for contemporaneously evaluating judges and one with the authority to immediately dismiss those with ethical or functional shortcomings.
I have previously written in Bloomberg Law that judges should be trained to judge, and that inferior members of the judiciary should never be allowed to linger on the bench. These inferior jurists are often seen devolving from court to court until finally – after hundreds of deeply flawed decisions to their name – somehow they are persuaded into retirement.
The problem that the Rittenhouse trial illustrates is that prosecutors have virtually no accountability and are often motivated by media, politics, opportunities for career advancement and their own personal bias. Their sense of impunity is often unchecked; their malfeasance is often erroneously attributed to innocent human error. Their egos are often mistaken for zeal.
The Rittenhouse case and its culmination through a public trial teaches us that we need to actively advocate reform in our judiciary. To accomplish this lofty objective, we ought to reconsider the efficacy of our judges, find alternatives to the anachronistic juries who are no longer our peers.
And, perhaps most importantly, we must hold morally corrupt prosecutors accountable.
If we are to have, as John Adams opined for in his plea for the Declaration of Independence, a nation of laws and not men, then we must accept that a system of laws is still administered by men, and to that end, we must reform our system to engrain checks and balances to affect fidelity to law rather than fealty to the woke media mob that has taken over our society.
Yuri Vanetik is a private investor, lawyer and political strategist based in California. Read Yuri Vanetik's Reports — More Here.
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