For the past several days, we have been reading and thinking about the jury’s verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Our work at LDAD is based on a fundamental belief in our democratic institutions and the rule of law, so we are not inclined to second-guess jury verdicts.
For a lawyer, it seems as much of a no-no as predicting a Supreme Court decision. Many factors converge in jury deliberations, including the behavior of witnesses, the instructions (and behavior) of the judge, and the makeup of the jury itself.
But one thing can be said about this verdict with some certainty. It will give license to those who don’t like the people engaging in constitutionally protected protest, or who don’t like their cause, to provoke violent confrontations with them and then claim self-defense. Bringing a gun to a knife fight is frowned upon; bringing a gun to a non-fight is much, much worse.
This is not to ignore the fact that there was property damage that occurred in Kenosha, a community that felt the impacts of a large demonstration on a deeply emotional topic. Self-defense cannot be based upon the defense of property. And our society cannot continue to allow teenagers to bring assault weapons to scenes of social unrest.