Rittenhouse Acquitted

The jury in Kyle Rittenhouse’s case returned a verdict a little while ago, acquitting him on all counts on the ground of self-defense. While certainly consistent with the evidence, the verdict was not a foregone conclusion. Anti-Rittenhouse mobs formed outside the courthouse, chanting slogans that may have been audible to the jurors as they deliberated. In any event, they were surely aware of the threats that were made by Antifa/BLM groups to riot if Rittenhouse were not convicted. And they likely were aware of reports that various persons had been trying to photograph them so they could be identified and attacked if they returned a verdict displeasing to the mob.

Like most people who have spent a lot of time conducting jury trials, I am a fan of the jury system. The wisdom of the group is greater than the wisdom of any one member, and I think it is quite rare for a jury to render a verdict that is not, in some fundamental sense, fair. But our jury system was not designed to function under the kinds of stresses that we saw with the Derek Chauvin prosecution, and, to a lesser extent, the Rittenhouse case. Jurors should not have to choose between their families’ physical safety and their duty to render an impartial verdict.

I am not sure how we can take the mob element out of high-profile, politically charged cases, but it starts with affording jurors whatever security they need and cracking down vigorously on post-verdict riots, when they happen.

Meanwhile, kudos to the Rittenhouse jury. These were the dramatic moments when the jury’s verdict was read aloud in court:

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