As I write this column, the jury is still out in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial. By now, anyone who reads the newspaper or listens to the news knows what this case has been about. Rittenhouse shot and killed two people and wounded another during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August of last year. Rittenhouse has maintained that he shot the men in self-defense.
I will spare you any further details. You and I will know the outcome of the trial by the time this column is published.
What I will tell you is that while watching and listening to these proceedings, I have learned plenty about the judicial system. Some of what I learned was hard to digest while on the other hand, some things I saw and heard were simply common sense.
I will say that if I had been a juror in this case, I would have been pulling my hair out over the repetitive dealings of the trial. I don’t claim to be educated in the ways of the legal field, yet I know when enough is enough.
Over the years as a reporter for this newspaper, I attended numerous trials — most often involving murder charges. Reporting such trials could be mentally exhausting because you knew how important it was to report the proceedings accurately and without bias.
It was often unnerving when a shackled defendant walked into the courtroom only to stare at or make threats toward the media. And family members could be just as intimidating.
Linda Comins was one of the best court reporters ever to put a pen to paper for this newspaper. She was meticulous in her note taking. And this was before the luxury of laptop computers or phones to record trials. We were lucky at times to be able to bring cameras into the courtrooms to take photos. Several judges simply did not allow them.
Some of the hardest trials covered involved crimes against children. And there are still too many in the courts today.
I have been called for jury duty locally many times over the years. However, most likely due to my affiliation with the news media, I never made it as a juror for a trial.
I did make it into the jury box on one occasion, but after lawyers got their heads together with the judge, I was booted out of the courtroom.
I believe serving on a jury is something as important as voting at each election. I will admit, however, I’m thankful I did not live in Kenosha, Wisconsin when the jury was selected for the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Case closed.
Heather Ziegler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.