Not guilty on all counts. That was the verdict by a courageous Kenosha, Wisconsin, jury in the unwarranted prosecution of Kyle Rittenhouse.
It had been obvious from the beginning to non-deranged and fair-minded persons who had viewed the widely broadcast video evidence that Rittenhouse had shot his three assailants in self-defense. The prosecution’s decision to charge him with murder and assault was mystifying. At least until we got a look at the bizarre, inept, and straw-grasping performance by the desperate, flop-sweating prosecutors sent into the courtroom to convict Rittenhouse. They appeared to be social justice warriors with law degrees and a tenuous grasp of reality who were on a mission to win at all costs — evidence be damned.
Well, speaking as one old prosecutor to a couple of shave tails, I hope you boys learned a lesson. Torturing facts and trying to pull fast ones on the defense gets you only so far before reality and common sense take over and bite you in the derriere.
Once again, a baseless and largely fictitious media narrative disintegrated when it collided with the facts of the case. Nevertheless, given the threats of violence if Rittenhouse was acquitted, he was at grave risk of conviction right up until the jury spoke.
For now, the young man is free of criminal charges, but, legally speaking, where does he go from here?
Let’s start with the state charges of which he has just been acquitted. Some benighted leftist die-hards are demanding that the prosecution appeal the jury’s verdict. But, under our laws, there is no appeal from an acquittal. Period. The state case is over.
But what about double jeopardy? Does the acquittal in state court preclude our woke Justice Department — under the fearless leadership of Attorney General Merrick (“The Hammer of the PTA”) Garland — from bringing federal charges? It does not. Under our system of dual sovereignties, an acquittal in state court does not bar federal charges arising out of the same facts. For example, when the police were acquitted in state court for beating Rodney King, they were subsequently convicted in federal court for violating his civil rights. Same beating, different courts, and different legal results.
Will the feds charge Rittenhouse? Unlike the police in the Rodney King case, he was not a state actor and was not acting at the behest of local government. On that basis, there is no clear legal jurisdiction for federal charges.
But President Joe Biden has denounced Rittenhouse as a white supremacist. And, minutes after the jury found Rittenhouse not guilty, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler tweeted, “This heartbreaking verdict is a miscarriage of justice and sets a dangerous precedent which justifies federal review by DOJ.”
He added, “Justice cannot tolerate armed persons crossing state lines looking for trouble while people engage in First Amendment-protected protest.”
This, God help us all, from the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
Even worse, Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard, followed up Nadler’s tweet with one of his own: “I join Chairman Nadler in that request. The idea that other vigilantes could take it upon themselves to shoot innocent people to death the way Rittenhouse did and get away scot-free is incompatible with the survival of a civilized, law-based society.”
Similarly, Rep. Sean Maloney (D-NY), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, opened his public statement with this: “It’s disgusting and disturbing that someone was able to carry a loaded assault rifle into a protest against the unjust shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, and take the lives of two people and injure another – and face absolutely no consequences.”
Now I’m not going to go through the tedium of explaining point-by-point how these proclamations are untethered to the facts. Suffice it to say that those who have obtained and continue to seek political benefit from the false Rittenhouse-as-vigilante narrative peddled by CNN, MSNBC, and the legacy media are not about to stop. They will ride that hobbyhorse until it’s no longer in their interest to do so.
So it is that Rittenhouse remains at severe risk of being criminally charged by the woke social justice warriors who run the Department of Justice. After all, an agency that will willfully and intentionally cease enforcing the law at our Southern border in order to admit what it hopes will be a tidal wave of future Democrat voters while simultaneously targeting as domestic terrorists parents who are fighting the state for control of their children’s fate, is capable of anything no matter how illegal.
Or, to paraphrase the bandit leader in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, the Justice Department’s social justice warriors don’t need “no stinkin’ jurisdiction.” They will do whatever they want.
And, of course, in addition to that threat, Rittenhouse faces the certainty of civil litigation.
The parents of Anthony Huber, who was killed by Rittenhouse, have issued the following statement:
There was no justice for Anthony, or for Mr. Rittenhouse’s other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz. Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.… Neither Mr. Rittenhouse nor the Kenosha police who authorized his bloody campaign will escape justice. Anthony will have his day in court.
The Kenosha police deny that they authorized armed civilians, including Rittenhouse, to help during the riots.
So, why are Huber’s parents claiming otherwise? Most likely it’s because young Mr. Rittenhouse has no assets and is judgment proof. But, if he was acting under the authority of the police, then the City of Kenosha can be held liable for damages.
Oh, and by the way, the mere claim that the police could have authorized his actions may be enough of a pretext for the woke Justice Department to investigate Rittenhouse as a state actor who violated the civil rights of Huber, Rosenbaum, and Grosskreutz.
In short, the drumbeat continues and Rittenhouse faces a perilous future as every progressive’s favorite legal piñata.
As for those television commentators who insist that he should start suing the media for defamation, my advice is quite to the contrary. Rittenhouse should forget about suing anybody, stop trying to explain why he did what he did, stay out of the public eye, keep his mouth shut, and brace for the onslaught.
In a later article, I will explain why a defamation suit by Rittenhouse is a really bad idea.
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor and a retired civil litigator and criminal defense lawyer. He blogs at knowledgeisgood.net and can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.