Constitutional Vanguard: Why Did a Judge Say the People Kyle Rittenhouse Shot Cannot Be Called “Victims”? Part One
The latest Constitutional Vanguard newsletter addresses the story you might have read yesterday in which the judge in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial said the shooting victims cannot be called, well, “victims” . . . but they can be called “rioters” or “looters.”
Evidence of bias? Maybe! But as I point out, such rulings are not that unusual.
I’m splitting this one up into two parts. Tonight, in Part One, I describe the issue, talk about the ways that judges can influence trials out of bias, and the institutional incentives that can cause judges to favor the defense in their rulings. Here’s a taste:
If a judge tells a prosecutor to pound sand, and that the court won’t be recessing the trial for the afternoon or for a day to allow the prosecution to get a critical witness to court, the prosecution has no recourse. None. The prosecution can’t appeal that decision. They can’t run off to the Court of Appeal and seek a writ. They are quite simply, as the saying goes, up a creek.
And so it is with most evidentiary rulings. If the judge makes a bad call and excludes clearly admissible evidence favoring the prosecution, the prosecution gets no appeal. If the prosecution loses the case as a result, that’s just too damn bad. Double jeopardy has kicked in and the defendant cannot be tried again. But the defendant can appeal all manner of rulings if there is a conviction, including exclusion of evidence, improper jury instructions . . . you name it.
I’m doing this one for the paid subscribers, mainly because it gives me a greater comfort level to write for a more loyal audience when I am writing about my profession. This will be especially so in Part Two, where I will tell some war stories about dumb/crazy rulings by judges . . . mostly from other people’s cases.