Fireworks in court as Rittenhouse defense calls for mistrial, judge sounds off on prosecutor
Testimony continued Wednesday, but the judge is still contemplating the defense's motion for a mistrial. The attorneys made that motion after prosecutors tried to bring up evidence the judge had previously ruled was inadmissible.
Judge Bruce Schroeder admonished prosecutor Thomas Binger several times and said he'll consider granting a mistrial with prejudice.
Rittenhouse defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said, "Under the circumstances, based on what I put forth on the record, I would certainly ask the court to consider those. And I would ask the court grant the motion with prejudice."
After the midday break, Chirafisi essentially accused the prosecution of intentionally trying to provoke a mistrial because the first trial is going badly.
The defense's motion for a mistrial with prejudice was prompted by several fiery exchanges earlier in the day. The judge sent the jury out of the courtroom after Binger asked Rittenhouse why he'd stayed silent after he was charged. Judge Schroeder said, "I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant's post-arrest silence. That’s basic law. It's been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years."
Judge Schroeder continued, "This is a grave constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant's silence. You're right on the borderline. And you may be over it. But it had better stop."
Twenty minutes later Binger asked about a video that was previously deemed inadmissible. This time defense attorney Mark Richards objected, saying, "I ask the court to strongly admonish him, and the next time it happens I'll be asking for a mistrial with prejudice. He's an experienced attorney and he knows better."
Binger argued Rittenhouse made statements that opened the door to bring up the video, saying the new testimony led him to believe the evidence was admissible. "I was taken aback by the defendant admitting that he had said to this person 'yes, I pointed a gun at you.'" But the judge said, "I didn't admit it in this case because to me, what I've heard in this trial, and by the way Mr. Richards absolutely correctly points out that just hours ago I said I heard nothing in this trial to change any of my rulings."
Binger responded, "That was before testimony." Judge Schroeder replied, "Don't get brazen with me. You know very well attorneys can't go into these types of areas when the judge already ruled without asking outside the presence of the jury, so don't give me that."
The judge continued, "You're an experienced trial attorney and you're telling me that when the judge says, 'I'm excluding this' you just take it upon yourself to put it in because you think that you found a way around it? Come on."
Binger again tried to tell the judge his line of questioning was in good faith. "This is my good faith explanation to you, and if you want to yell at me you can, my good faith feeling this morning after watching that testimony, was you had left the door open a little bit, now we have something new, and I was going to probe it."
But Judge Schroeder said, "I don't believe you. There better not be another incident, I'll take the motion under advisement."