The judge questions Rittenhouse’s gun charge, raising doubts about the prosecution’s case


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During last week’s motion hearing in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial, Judge Bruce Schroeder noted the surprising comment that he “spent hours” with the Wisconsin gun law and cannot be certain of its meaning in this case.

The statement could effectively knock out a misdemeanor gun possession count – a count that can still be played on behalf of a jury after a prosecution of a more serious offense collapses in court. A closer examination of that provision reveals not only its meaning but sufficient reason to question its applicability to this case.

Illegal possession of a firearm is a major concern not only by prosecutors but also by the press.

Jonathan Turley: This liberal thinking tank appears in the Durham investigation

At trial, however, prosecutor Thomas Binger seemed to be learning administrative law from Rittenhouse. For example, he pressed Rittenhouse about why he didn’t buy a handgun more than an AR-15. Rittenhouse replied that he could not have a handgun at his age.

Binger then asked in obvious disbelief that the law allowed him to own an AR-15 but not a handgun, and Rittenhouse said yes. Binger then moved on after drawing a point out on defense.

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The exchange was even more confusing as one of Binger’s alleged “victims” was an adult named Guyg Groeskrutz, who decided to bring a handgun to the protest and pointed his .40 caliber Glock to the head. Rittenhouse when he was shot in the arm.

However, the most damaging moment came from outside the jury’s presence when judges drilled into law. He told prosecutors, “I’m wrestling with this law. I hate to count the hours I put in it. I’m still trying to figure out what it says, what’s forbidden. I have a legal education.” He said he failed to understand how the “ordinary citizen” could be outlawed.

It is difficult to understand how the count can be presented to the jury without clearly understanding its meaning. It is also difficult to instruct jury on ambiguous legislation.

Criminal laws are interpreted narrowly. This is known as the “Rule of Lenity” and has been in the English system for centuries. For example, in 1547, the court faced a law criminalizing theft of “horses, geldings or mares”. Considering the use of plural nouns, the court ruled that this did not apply to stealing only one horse.

It is not clear whether the legislation actually restricts the acquisition by Rittenhouse.

The problem with Wisconsin legislation is not the plurality issue but the definition. It is not clear whether the legislation actually restricts the acquisition by Rittenhouse. In fact, it could come to the length of Rittenhouse’s weapon, and prosecutors never bothered to measure it and put it into evidence.

In Wisconsin, minors cannot afford short-barreled rifles under the category 941.28. Failure to put evidence in the record to claim such a short length does not appear here. Rittenhouse used the Smith & Wesson MP-15 with an advertising barrel length of 16 inches and an overall length of 36.9 inches. It’s not a small barrel.

Then there’s the rest of the inscription and finally the word “and”. Under Section 948.60 (2) (a) (“Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18”) “[a]Any person under the age of 18 who has a dangerous weapon or is armed with it is guilty of Class A misconduct. ”That makes Rittenhouse guilty, right?

Well, then you should look at subsection (c), which states, “This section applies only to persons under the age of 18 years or armed with a rifle or shotgun if the person violates s. 941.28 or ss. 29304. And 29.593. “

Since there is no evidence that Rittenhouse violated Section 941.28, he must have violated both sections 29.304 And 29.593. The defense acknowledged Rittenhouse was in violation of section 29.593 requiring certification for weapons. However, they do not violate section 29.304, entitled “Restrictions on hunting and firearms use by persons under 16 years of age.” As the title suggests, the section makes it illegal for persons under 16 to use firearms. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time and the prosecution did not question that fact.

If Rittenhouse was convicted on that count, it could pose a serious challenge to the appeal. In fact, it is interesting why Schroeder would file a jury count if it was unanimous that Rittenhouse was 17 years old. If this was the correct interpretation of the statute, the jury would have no way of justifying Rittenhouse. When there is no evidence that he was a police officer, the equivalent of giving a criminal count to a judge based on his use of force as a police officer.

The defendant also offered legislative history to support a narrow interpretation but the prosecution opposed such reliance on material beyond language. However, that language is difficult to classify with the allegations and evidence in this case.

Rittenhouse certainly faces other counts. However, on that count, the question comes down to “and.” To paraphrase Johnny Cochran from the OJ Simpson Trial, the clause “If not correct, you must acquit.”

Click here to read more by Jonathan Turley

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