Joke And Jury Ethics At The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

chicken_ft-scaled

Weird, man.

In Kenosha, Wissonsin, where Kyle Rittenhouse is standing trial for murder after he shot and killed two protesters during the riots following the shooting of Jacob Blake, an alternate juror was dismissed for making a joke. The juror, a retired white man, said to a court police officer as the officer escorted him to his car, “Why did the Kenosha police shoot Jacob Blake seven times? Because they ran out of bullets!”

HAR! That’s being called a bad joke in the news media: actually, it’s a classic formula joke in the tradition of “Why does a fireman wear red suspenders?,” “Why did the chicken cross the road”? and “How do you know a politician is lying?” (because his/her lips are moving!). Nonetheless, the officer reported the joke to Judge Bruce Schroeder, who called on the juror to explain to him and the lawyers what the joke was and what he meant by it. The juror confirmed that he made a joke but wouldn’t repeat it. That got him kicked off the jury.

Observations:

  • Isn’t that joke completely ambiguous? Media reports imply that it obviously suggested that the juror was pro-Rittenhouse. That’s not accurate. It could mean that the juror had no sympathy for Blake (neither do I), which I guess means that he would be more likely to identify with Rittenhouse, who shot two individuals who were protesting the police shooting of an armed, accused rapist in the process of kidnapping his victim’s kids. The joke could also mean that the juror sided with the protesters, since it suggests that the police used excessive force only limited by their lack of more ammunition. It could also just be a joke.
  • Refusing to answer a direct request from a judge is grounds for dismissal anyway.
  • The juror is also evidently an idiot. Who makes a joke like that to court personnel when they are serving on a jury that is considering matters related to the subject of the joke? He should have been dismissed no matter what his intentions were.
  • Then there is always the possibility that he was trying to get dismissed.

7 thoughts on “Joke And Jury Ethics At The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

  1. I can’t decide if it was a deliberate effort to get dismissed or simple stupidity. I guess it could be both, but I think the two can’t really coexist, so I have to choose.

    I’m going with idiot. Save the funny jokes about people getting killed with guns until after the trial about people getting killed with guns upon which you serve as a juror. A person of normal intelligence wouldn’t need to be told that.

  2. That last point was my first impression. There’s always the possibility that the juror was an idiot, never underestimate the possibility of someone being an idiot. But making an off color joke on the topic of the trial seems… egregiously stupid. Either he wanted off the panel or he was too stupid to sit on it. I’m fine with this outcome either way.

  3. Since he told the joke to a police officer, I’m inclined to believe he thought it would be well received by the officer. But it’s so ambiguous, who knows what the officer thought of it, so stupid, whatever the reason.

    Looks like the ADA prosecutor is also having difficulties with his own witnesses:
    https://legalinsurrection.com/2021/11/rittenhouse-trial-day-3-states-own-witnesses-damage-prosecution-reinforce-self-defense-narrative/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=cf7769ec-27f9-4430-9e7c-69d63d8b0789

  4. If someone is inclined to be excused from serving on a jury, that’s easy enough to do during the jury selection phase (as I recently discovered myself by opining on the high bar of reasonable doubt and “better 100 guilty persons…”). I’m going with stupidity.

  5. I don’t think the chicken crossing the road joke is in the same category as the fireman’s suspenders. It would be if “the other side” only meant the other side of the road and wasn’t a euphemism for death, but that chicken wanted to get to The Other Side.

    • It would be if “the other side” only meant the other side of the road and wasn’t a euphemism for death no no nononono WHAT? It’s a euphemism for WHAT? One of the simplest, silliest, first joke a kid learns means….. No, I just put my fingers in my ears and will read no more. There are some things we are meant to believe in, such as that line meaning what it says (minus the upper case letters or use of words beginning with EUPH). Cluck to you!

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