Kyle Rittenhouse, the right wing vigilante who came to Kenosha, Wisconsin during the anti-police brutality protests and shot and killed two men and injured a third, and his preliminary hearing on Thursday.
What we know so far is that Rittenhouse used his stimulus check to have a friend illegally purchase a semi-automatic rifle and store it at his house. During the anti-police brutality protests, he came to Kenosha and got the weapon. He then joined up with a white supremacy group to cause mayhem with the protesters. When he shot the three people, he was trespassing on a car dealership lot and wearing latex gloves to protect his hands from gunshot residue. It was pretty obvious that his intent on being there was to cause mayhem and shoot people.
Despite this evidence, his defense attorney, Mark Richards, wanted all the charges dismissed for various reasons, the main one being that Rittenhouse was claiming self-defense.
The prosecutor argued against those claims and the court ordered him bound over for trial for all six charges:
A lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse used Rittenhouse's preliminary hearing to offer a sneak preview of the self-defense he will raise at a trial over shootings that killed two people and wounded a third during unrest in Kenosha in August.
But efforts to have two of six counts against the Illinois teen dismissed were denied by Kenosha County Court Commissioner Loren Keating, who also found probable cause that Rittenhouse committed the crimes charged and bound him over for trial.
But then things took a twist.
The issue came up when Richards asked that John Pierce, an attorney in California, be allowed to join the defense. These requests are generally granted as long as the person in question is in good standing in their own state. However, the state prosecutor vehemently opposed the idea with some pretty compelling reasons:
Binger's brief says Pierce has too much ethical baggage to earn that right.
"Attorney Pierce’s personal financial difficulties raise significant ethical concerns, especially when he has close ties to a substantial yet unregulated and unreported 'slush fund' that is intended solely for the benefit of the defendant," Binger wrote in reference to the #FightBack Foundation.
Binger argues that donations for Rittenhouse's legal defense should be held in trust, as is required of Wisconsin attorneys taking retainers to represent clients. It's a bigger concern for conflict of interest, Binger notes, because of Pierce's well-publicized personal and professional financial struggles.
"The more that the Foundation raises in donations, the more he may personally benefit. Money that should be held in trust for the defendant may instead be used to repay Attorney Pierce’s numerous creditors," Binger writes.
Binger also mentions concerns he brought up in an earlier motion for a protective order, essentially asking the court to warn Pierce about some of his inflammatory statements regarding the case on conservative and social media, and even in other courts.
He has called the case against Rittenhouse a political prosecution, promoted a recall of DA Michael Graveley, portrayed his client as a service-oriented patriot, denigrated his victims, and suggested that extraditing him to Wisconsin would be like 'turning him over to the mob."
Such remarks violate Wisconsin lawyers' rules of professional conduct, Binger says, and risk prejudicing potential jurors.
Another court had already granted the request for Pierce to join the defense, but since then the prosecutor has filed a new briefing. That matter is still waiting to be scheduled.
As a "fun fact" that I was not previously aware of, Rittenhouse has had three attorneys since August. The first one was the sleazy Lin Wood, who is currently working on several of Trump's challenges to the election results.