Why Kyle Rittenhouse's Attorney Is Leaving Criminal Case as Arraignment Set For Kenosha Shooter

One of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse's attorneys is stepping away from his criminal defense soon after prosecutors argued he should be blocked from representing the 17-year-old due to his fundraising efforts.

Los Angeles based lawyer John M. Pierce confirmed will be pulling back from the teenager's defense and attorney Mark Richards will now be representing Rittenhouse in the criminal trial.

Pierce said he will instead be focusing on raising money for the defense team.

Pierce, along with Rittenhouse's fellow attorney Lin Wood, were able to raise the $2m needed to post the teenager's bail following a successful fundraising campaign.

"So that it does not take Kyle's supporters by surprise, effective immediately I am taking over all civil matters for Kyle including his future defamation claims," Pierce tweeted. "I will also be orchestrating all fundraising for defense costs. The terrific Mark Richards will proceed in Wisconsin."

The decision arrived after Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger filed a court motion arguing that Pierce should not be allowed to represent the murder suspect, alleging he has "significant personal financial difficulties" and that "money that should be held in trust for the defendant may instead be used to repay attorney Pierce's numerous creditors."

According to the Chicago Tribune, the motion argued that Pierce's fundraising efforts could be in violation of Wisconsin's code of conduct for attorneys, as well as his alleged financial difficulties.

The Tribune reports that Pierce filed court records in 2019 showing he had no income, monthly expenses more than $49,000 and around $1.2 million in various debts. He also was sued in July over allegations he breached a rental agreement on a $1.3 million home in Ventura County, California.

"This creates a potential conflict of interest for attorney Pierce," the motion states.

"Given his own substantial personal debts, his involvement with an unregulated and opaque 'slush fund' provides ample opportunity for self-dealing and fraud. The more that the Foundation raises in donations, the more he may personally benefit."

In a statement to Newsweek, Pierce said: "Now that we have successfully gotten Kyle bailed out and have built an amazing criminal defense team in Wisconsin, I am turning my attention to the massive tasks of preparing Kyle's defamation and other civil claims as well as orchestrating our new fundraising efforts to ensure we have the resources to get through trial.

"This was always the plan. Kyle is in terrific hands with our Wisconsin lawyers. We will all be working side by side to ensure Kyle is acquitted and all of his legal rights are vindicated."

Pierce previously confirmed he stepped away from the #FightBack Foundation, which is serving as Rittenhouse's fundraiser, in order to avoid any "appearance of conflict" with his client.

The #FightBack foundation, which is led by Wood, is also being used to help proove the disputed claims of mass voter fraud in the election.

Pierce has been contacted for further comment.

Elsewhere, a Kenosha County Court Commissioner ruled that Rittenhouse can stand trial for homicide charges after his defense team failed to get two of his charges dismissed during a preliminary hearing.

The defense asked that the 17-year-old have the charges of recklessly endangering safety and possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor against him thrown out, arguing the weapon charge was a violation of his 2nd amendment rights.

The attorney's continue to argue that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and seriously injured Gaige Grosskreutz during the Black Lives Matter protest on August 25.

Binger said it is up to a jury to decide if Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense, not for a preliminary hearing.

"All this court needs to find was that a felony was committed and probably committed with this defendant," Binger said, reported TMj4.

The court agreed and ruled that Rittenhouse should stand trial in Wisconsin for two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two charges of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Rittenhouse is due to appear in court on January 5 for an arraignment hearing.

Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse cleans graffiti from a high school near the Kenosha County Courthouse following another night of unrest on August 25, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. An attorney for the 17-year-old said he is stepping back from his criminal defense. Scott Olson/Getty

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts