By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — After two weeks of breathtaking prosecutorial abuse in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, one of the great ironies has to be the mission statement of the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office.
You’ll find in on the agency’s homepage.
The primary mission of the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office is to uphold the rule of law, vigorously prosecute criminals and seek justice for victims of crime…It is important to keep in mind that the District Attorney is the gatekeeper to the criminal justice system. As such, his job is not merely to obtain convictions but to seek justice.
It begs the question, what kind of justice was this DA’s office and its lead prosecutor, Thomas Binger, pursuing when they tried Rittenhouse, the Antioch, Ill. teen who fatally shot two rioters and injured another during last year’s riots in Kenosha?
After deliberating for nearly three and a half days, the jury found Rittenhouse not guilty of homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, on Aug. 25, 2020. Rittenhouse successfully argued self-defence.
There was plenty of prosecutorial incompetence from Kenosha County’s “dream team,” to be sure, but the district attorney’s office at several turns defied its credo. In short, it placed the pursuit of a conviction above justice.
“A prosecutor is supposed to seek the truth. It’s not about winning. This case became about winning, which is probably why it got so personal,” said Mark Richards, one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, in summing up Binger.
Binger broke a basic constitutional tenet when he, while cross-examining Rittenhouse, commented on Rittenhouse’s decision to remain silent.
“The judge correctly tore into the prosecutor. Any first-year law student knows that you cannot comment on the silence of a Mirandized defendant after an arrest under the Fifth Amendment – let alone ignore a court order,” wrote Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and Fox News legal analyst.
The prosecutorial abuses were so bad that the defense called for a mistrial with prejudice, arguing Binger acted with “prosecutorial overreach.”
Binger has refused to comment on the trial.
The assistant DA appears to have higher aspirations. In 2016, he ran unsuccessfully for district attorney in nearby Racine County. Let’s just say Racine County dodged a bullet.
The Kenosha County District Attorney Office’s mission statement asserts the prosecutors’ duties include, but are not limited to, “aggressively and fairly prosecuting those who violate the laws of Kenosha County and the State of Wisconsin …”
Binger and his team got the aggressive prosecution part down. They abjectly failed on the fair portion.