Kyle Rittenhouse got to play a direct role in deciding who will be the final 12 jurors that decide his fate at trial on Tuesday morning.
At the direction of Circuit Judge Bruce Schroder, Rittenhouse’s attorney placed slips of paper into a raffle drum with the numbers of each of the 18 jurors on it who sat through the two-week trial. The drum had been sitting on a window ledge throughout the trial but was placed in front of Rittenhouse at the defense table Tuesday.
Rittenhouse then selected six slips of paper from the drum, choosing six jurors who will sit out the deliberation process. Those six are dismissed from deliberating, but at the request of the defense will remain in the courthouse as alternate jurors.
Some former Milwaukee County district attorneys and others said they had never seen a judge allow a defendent to draw names from a tumbler dismissing alternate jurors.
There’s no prohibition on having the defendant draw the numbers of alternate jurors, but the general practice is to have the clerk of courts do it, said Ion Meyn, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.
Meyn said that if it is a common practice of the judge, it may not be worth the risk of objecting to the process.
Schroeder, the judge in Rittenhouse’s trial, is the longest-serving circuit court judge in Wisconsin. The 75-year-old’s methods have drawn attention throughout the trial, including reading trivia questions to jurors at the outset, professing his lack of knowledge about modern technology, asking for applause for veterans on Veterans Day as a defense witness who served in the military was about to testify and sometimes speaking angrily at prosecutors when they pursued lines of questioning he had barred.