Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Reported jury recording under investigation
KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis. - Authorities are investigating a reported recording of the Kyle Rittenhouse jury ahead of them arriving at the courthouse. The Kenosha County Sheriff's Department is investigating the matter and the court has been kept up to speed on all potential security issues being monitored by the sheriff's department.
In court Tuesday morning, Nov. 9, it was revealed a deputy spotted someone video recording the jury, whose privacy is paramount during such a high-profile criminal case.
"This morning at the pickup, there was someone there who was video recording the jury," said Judge Bruce Schroeder.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder
Judge Schroeder said officers approached the person and required them to delete the video before returning the person's cellphone, adding the sheriff's office was instructed that if it happens again, to take whatever recording device it may be.
"Has that person been showing up to court, Your Honor?" said Mark Richards, defense attorney.
"You know, I don’t know the answer to that," said Judge Schroeder.
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It's unclear who the person was. The sheriff's department is investigating this information and working with the courts; the clerk of court adding it has been kept abreast of all potential juror security issues that are being closely monitored by the sheriff's department.
The protection and secrecy of jurors are critical during any trial. Media and the public are prohibited from showing or taking any photos of jurors.
"You are in a very high-profile, internationally high-profile case, and you’re afraid," said Michael Maistelman, attorney. "There are people on both sides of the argument that are very passionate, and it’s about violence."
Some states and the federal government have laws that explicitly include jurors as part of witness intimidation laws, but not in Wisconsin. There are, however, laws against "communicating with jurors," and attorney Maistelman says that could be verbal, or non-verbal, like in this case.
"That by videotaping them, then able to identify them, and the jurors seeing that they’re being videotaped has a chilling effect upon them – clearly," he said.
Maistelman says this is an area of law that he feels should be addressed by the Legislature, to include juror protections.
"I think it would behoove the jurors and the public in Wisconsin if we had that statute," he said.
Now, as far as the punishments for communicating with jurors, if found guilty, that person would be convicted of a felony and could face a maximum of six-and-a-half years in prison and a fine of no more than $10,000.