Defense attorney breaks down what comes next after Rittenhouse’s acquittal
MADISON, Wis. — Now that a jury has acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges stemming from unrest in Kenosha last summer, there are no post-trial proceedings left in the case, Madison-based defense attorney Jessa Nicholson said Friday.
Nicholson joined Live at Four to break down the next steps and share her thoughts on the verdict.
On the timing
Nicholson said she didn’t think anyone expected the verdict to come when it did and did not expect a verdict on Friday.
While some may have thought the three and a half days of deliberation could have meant the jury was close to hanging, Nicholson did not suspect that would be the case.
On the verdict and proceedings
On the verdict, she said she’s “not entirely surprised” by the jury’s decision.
Nicholson believes ultimately, Rittenhouse’s defense team maintained a stronger case — presenting better evidence and having stronger facts — throughout the trial.
When it came to the state’s case, Nicholson said the prosecution made some missteps.
“I think they were very quick to assume everyone viewed this as an issue of obvious homicide,” she said. “I think they neglected to account for some of the sentiment that was there about self-defense, generally. I also didn’t find the way that they presented their video evidence to be persuasive.”
The prosecution’s biggest error, she said, was their failure to adequately prepare Gaige Grosskreutz, the surviving witness, for testimony.
“His absolute devastation via cross-examination was really what did it,” she said.
Nicholson also said she hopes the length of time jurors deliberated helps people accept the jury’s decision, adding she felt the jury did its best.
“I know people are upset about this, but a lot of people who are upset didn’t watch the actual trial, and it’s easy to have opinions about things from a 30-second clip you see on the news,” she said. “But this was a lengthy trial with a lot of evidence, and the jury took a long time considering it.”
On having Rittenhouse testify
Rittenhouse’s defense team put him on the stand to testify. Asked whether she would have made a similar decision, she said it’s a difficult call but ultimately would also have had him testify.
“I think different legal experts have different legal opinions,” she said. “I’m a lawyer in the Midwest; so is Mark Richards, so is Corey Chirafisi. Midwestern juries like to hear from defendants. Furthermore, this is a self-defense case; it’s hard to argue an affirmative defense without having the person whose story it is tell it.”
On the next steps
While the state-level criminal case is now closed, there are other avenues for legal action to be taken.
“He might choose to pursue other litigation but in terms of remedies for perceived state abuses or perceived judicial abuses, there are the Office of Lawyer Regulation or the Office of Judicial Conduct and that’s really it,” she said. “It would be a separate proceeding.”
The victims’ families can also file civil suits.
Despite the attention the case has received, Nicholson said she does not expect it to set a precedent
“It’s really, at the end of the day, a homicide case that had an affirmative defense,” she said. “We see those a lot.”
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