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Every Controversial Move Judge Bruce Schroeder Has Made During Kyle Rittenhouse's Trial So Far

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Judge Schroeder, Kyle Rittenhouse

On trial for the murder of two men and the injury of another with a military-style rifle in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse is finishing up his second week in court.

The case has become a far-right and left battleground with many picking apart the trial's controversial moments.

From the almost all-white jury to the members of Rittenhouse's defense team, there's plenty of aspects of the trial that have made many fearful that Rittenhouse won't be found guilty.

And given Judge Bruce Schroeder's many questionable moments in the trial, that fear might be valid.

5 controversial moves Judge Bruce Schroeder has made in the Kyle Rittenhouse case.

The Kenosha County judge overseeing the case has a long history of career controversies but questions about his impartiality in Rittenhouse's trial are based on several actions in recent weeks. 

1. Prohibited using the term ‘victim’ to describe people shot by Rittenhouse.

Prior to the actual trial hearings where the prosecutors and defense would present their arguments, a hearing needs to happen to talk about the proceedings of the trial.

Things that get talked about are what evidence gets to be used, what precedents will be set, how the high-profile case would affect proceedings, and also saying that the people shot by Rittenhouse could not be called ‘victims,’ despite being exactly that.

"This is a long-held opinion of mine, which very few judges, I guess, share with me,” he said to defend his stance. “I think the word victim is a loaded, loaded word."

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He took the problem even further by saying that if the defense could prove it, they could use the terms “rioters,” “looters,” and “arsonists.”

This sets a dangerous precedent for the proceedings of the trial by absolving the people who were murdered of any innocence, and simply ignoring the definition of the word “victim.”

2. He yelled at the prosecutor for questioning Rittenhouse using video evidence.

While Rittenhouse was on the stand, testifying for his defense, prosecutor Thomas Binger brought up a piece of video evidence to show Rittenhouse’s intent for appearing at a riot with a gun.

The video that had been taken just 15 days before the Kenosha murders showed shoplifters stealing from a CVS when Rittenhouse says, “Bro, I wish I had my f—ing AR. l’d start shooting rounds at them.”

According to Schroeder, the evidence is too “prejudicial” and would harm the case if used, but that’s exactly what the prosecutor brought it up for.

The video shows Rittenhouse’s very clear desire for violence, insinuating that if he had a gun, he would start shooting at the shoplifters.

When the prosecutor argued back with the judge, Schroeder yelled “Don’t get brazen with me,” and proceeded to treat Binger like he was a child.

3. Schroeder’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” ringtone blared during proceedings.

After returning from their lunch break on Wednesday, Judge Schroeder had forgotten to put his phone back on do not disturb as someone called him.

Lee Greenwood’s patriotic anthem, “God Bless the U.S.A.,” has become somewhat of a political symbol before Schroeder’s phone likely ever had it as a ringtone.

Trump has repeatedly used the song during campaign rallies and events, once even with Greenwood by his side, and became an anthem for patriotism.

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This could show implicit bias on the judge’s behalf for a case that has widely been politicized — some Republicans, those on the right-wing, and conservatives alike are all rooting for Rittenhouse to walk free.

4. He made an inappropriate joke regarding “Asian food”

Thursday morning, when he was asked about lunch and when it would be, he responded and included an attempt at what many believed to be a joke.

“Let’s hope for one o’clock, I don’t know,” he started his response. “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming… isn’t on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor.”

His comment caused social outrage from many who jumped to conclusions and called him racist — likely because they think he’s making some sort of joke about Asian people coming off the boat.

But others defended the quip, saying that he was referring to the massive amounts of boats that are stuck on the coast, waiting to come into port with their goods that have been under a supply chain squeeze for almost a year now.

Either way, the racial comment could be considered inappropriate and unprofessional.

5. He made the entire courtroom applaud for Veteran’s Day.

Thursday was also Veteran’s day. As such, Schroeder decided to ask the courtroom if there were any veterans.

Expert witness John Black, replied “yes.” When Schroeder asked him what branch he was a part of, he replied “Army, sir.”

"Okay, and I think we can give a round of applause to the people who have served our country," said Schroeder before everyone began to applaud — including Rittenhouse.

Once again, a very strange gesture that many people pointed to on social media. Why is the judge showing admiration for an expert witness, or doing any of that to begin with?

As the prosecutor and the defense prepare to present their closing arguments on Monday, he’s likely going to be in the spotlight for more controversial decisions in the future.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.