On Friday, after talking heads spent hours chewing over the disgusting-yet-predictable acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse of murdering two protesters, FINALLY, Maya Wiley shone the legal spotlight on Judge Bruce Shroeder as being the lynchpin (pun intended) on which the defense relied.
On Deadline White House, Nicolle Wallace asked Wiley what she thought the most significant legal aspect of the acquittal was, or specifically, "on what did this acquittal turn?" Wiley acknowledged the significance of the jury buying the self-defense claim, and the specifics of one or two aspects of witness testimony. But overall, she believes this came down to the judge.
"[A]t the end of the day, I really think this turned on the judge. Because we have a judge that in addition -- it's not just that he said you can't call the people who have been killed or injured 'victims.' It's that he allowed demonstrators to be labelled as 'rioters,' and even in one instance, Drew Hernandez, who is ideological and has a very formed biased opinion, who gets to be on the stand as a fact witness, and use the word 'antifa,' even when the Department of Homeland Security has said white supremacy is a significant danger in this country, and not antifa. So what that tells us, though, is the inability of the prosecution to actually cross-examine on the bias of that witness," Wiley explained, expanding on the notion that a defense witness can spew right-wing talking point nonsense, yet not be cross-examined on his bias. Yet, the actual victims weren't permitted to be labelled as such, but were allowed to be called "rioters" and "looters," even though the one who lived wasn't charged with either rioting or looting.
Then Wiley moved on to the judge's bizarre dismissal of the gun charge against Rittenhouse.
"And then throwing out the misdemeanor gun charge? Really? He threw it out?" Wiley was incredulous. "Reading the statute, it is not clear to me how that stands. But what it says to the jury, essentially, the jury knows there was an illegal weapons charge, and they know the judge took it away." She concluded, "These are very clear signals to a jury what the judge thinks about the case. And we have so many examples in this. And that's a deep problem for the belief that the justice system works. And I do feel like we are in more danger today than we were yesterday."
She's not the only one. MANY of us feel less safe.
Wallace showed some of the headlines Shroeder "earned" over the course of the trial, all detailing aspects of his overt bias in favor of Rittenhouse, falling just short of bringing him fresh-baked cookies from his grandmother's recipe to munch on during the trial. Wallace asked her, "What are we left to feel about the administration of justice?"
Wiley's answer was the equivalent of, "We've been trying to tell you." She's kinder than that, though.
"Well, I think one of the things that this trial has shown many people who have had the opportunity to see inside a courtroom is what Black people in this country have been experiencing for hundreds of years, which is the system doesn't necessarily work fairly for everyone. Because people are people. They have biases, and they bring them into courtroom," she said, explaining the obvious.
She acknowledged that the jury worked hard, and likely some (or at least one) on the jury likely fought about the evidence presented. But when it comes down to it? The system is built for white people.
"[A]s I said, you can't have the neutral arbiter, the judge, putting his hand on the scales and call it justice. And that is a problem that we have had in the system. Unfortunately, in many cases, not in all of them. But it's certainly the case that you don't get -- peace is a choice. Peace is a choice. But justice is a requirement for that choice. And that's the problem."
Absorb that. Justice is a requirement for peace. A Rittenhouse acquittal was not justice.