Judge in Kyle Rittenhouse Case Nixes Sending Juror Pool Questionnaires to Determine Bias

The judge in the Kyle Rittenhouse case denied requests from both prosecutors and defense attorneys to send questionnaires to potential juror pools in order to determine their bias.

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder denied the requests on Sept. 23, saying in a letter to the attorneys that he was afraid people wouldn't fill out the questionnaires and the recipients would discuss the case with family members, friends and co-workers.

"That may trigger even more conversations about the case, with consequent opinion formation," Schroeder said.

Rittenhouse, of Antioch, Illinois, is accused of shooting three people during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year. The protest was in response to Jacob Blake, a Black man who was left paralyzed after being shot by a white police officer.

Rittenhouse, who is white, is accused of bringing a semiautomatic rifle to the protest and worsening conflict between protestors and the police.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kyle Rittenhouse Defense
A Wisconsin judge denied requests from both prosecutors and defense attorneys to send questionnaires to determine potential juror bias in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. A person holds a sign that reads "Kyle's Life Matters", a reference to Kyle Rittenhouse, as several hundred members of the Proud Boys and other similar groups gathered at Delta Park in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 26, 2020. Maranie R. Staab/AFP via Getty Images

Schroder on Tuesday was expected to consider remaining motions in the Rittenhouse case, setting the final ground rules before a trial begins next month.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during the protest in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, faces homicide and other charges, but he maintains that he acted in self-defense. His trial is set to begin Nov. 1.

Rittenhouse's attorneys want the judge to dismiss a charge that he possessed his AR-style semiautomatic rifle illegally because he was a minor, and to allow testimony from an expert on police use-of-force decisions.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, were looking for permission to introduce a video showing Rittenhouse saying he'd like to shoot some men he thought were shoplifting from a pharmacy 15 days before the protest. Schroeder said last month he was leaning toward excluding it.

Kenosha was in the throes of several nights of chaotic protests in August 2020 after a white police officer shot Blake during a domestic disturbance, leaving Blake paralyzed from the waist down. Rittenhouse, now 18, traveled to Kenosha in response to social media posts asking for help defending city businesses.

Many conservatives flocked to support Rittenhouse, calling him a patriot for seeking to stop violent protests, making him a symbol for gun rights and raising $2 million for his bail. Others, including some liberals and activists, portrayed him as a domestic terrorist and said he made a volatile situation worse by bringing a rifle to the streets of Kenosha.

Kyle Rittenhouse
A judge denied the requests from both sides in the Kyle Rittenhouse case to send questionnaires to determine potential juror bias. Above, Rittenhouse (right) accused of shooting three people during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, speaks with one of his attorneys, Natalie Wisco, during a motion hearing, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool