The Rittenhouse trial

Kyle Rittenhouse is claiming self-defense but I thought claims of defense were generally invalid if the person was committing a crime. For instance, if someone robs a bank using guns and the police shoot at them, they can’t kill the cops and claim they acted in self-defense, is my understanding. A person can’t break into a home, kill the homeowner and claim self-defense.

Rittenhouse was in possession of a gun he was not legally allowed to possess and had crossed state lines to wield it. How does that not shut down any claims of self-defense that he is trying to make?

ETA: Here’s the latest AP story about the trial:

You don’t lose a right to self defense simply because you are committing some violation of the criminal code. For example, if I am illegally dumping old tires on the side of the road and someone tries to kill me, my self defense right does not evaporate because of my criminality.

In the examples you cite, the person claiming self defense was the initial aggressor, the other person responded with lawful force, and then the first person attempted to defend himself. The initial act which permitted lawful deadly force in response by definition cannot then be used to justify subsequent force.

Your hypothetical would have absurd consequences. If a woman was illegally carrying a gun and a man or several men attempted to viciously sexually assault her, she would be powerless to use the gun because of the illegality of her carrying it. The law would hold that she could be charged for the illegal carry of the gun, but the self defense aspect would be analyzed on its own merits.

Okay; that at least mostly makes sense. I mean, it makes sense but it seems like things can be argued to extremes pretty easily.

In your hypothetical, what if the man or men were simply trying to take her illegally carried gun away?

The Judge took a break in the proceedings to rant about how mean the media are to him (video in tweet):

It would be pretty fact specific. How did the men know the gun was illegal? Are the men clothed with citizen’s arrest power in the jurisdiction? Did the men state that the woman was under arrest pursuant to state law? Was it reasonable given the time, place, and surrounding circumstances for the woman to believe that the men were effectuating a citizen’s arrest and not using it as a ruse to assault her? There would be a lot of debate over that incident.

Without more context, I can’t say if that is a fair characterization. Although a judge shouldn’t have mentioned CNN by name, it seems as if he is discussing a pending motion with the attorneys and is justifying his prior decision for a possible appellate review.

You’re thinking about “provocation”. Here’s what Wisconsin says about it:

Provocation affects the privilege of self-defense as follows:

(a) A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.

(b) The privilege lost by provocation may be regained if the actor in good faith withdraws from the fight and gives adequate notice thereof to his or her assailant.

(c) A person who provokes an attack, whether by lawful or unlawful conduct, with intent to use such an attack as an excuse to cause death or great bodily harm to his or her assailant is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense.

Yes! Thank you, Falchion!

How is Rittenhouse’s defense maneuvering things so that this has not been the situation that is being discussed at trial?

We shall soon find out.

I haven’t been watching the trial and I only vaguely remember the details of the original stories.

Self-defense is typically an affirmative defense that would be presented in the defense case. And, as I read section (a), it’s really not that different from a regular self-defense standard, except that the provoker has a duty to retreat.

Rittenhouse clearly used deadly force. If Rittenhouse was not a provoker, he was only allowed to do so if he " reasonably believe[d] that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself." If he was a provoker, he could use deadly force if he “reasonably believe[d] he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”

As I recall, it’s unclear whether his possession of the firearm was unlawful. And I don’t know whether crossing state lines makes a difference in that. And I don’t know whether carrying a firearm unlawfully is conduct “likely to provoke others to attack him” (or if he did anything else). But the only issue that would add was whether he had the ability to retreat.

The investigation in Illinois concluded the gun was purchased and stored in Wisconsin. There was no crossing state lines with the weapon.

The firearms charge of carrying a weapon by a minor is only a misdemeanor. I don’t know how the defense will present it but pretrial they were trying to have the charge dismissed because of the confusing wording of the statutes and some legal exceptions.

It really depends on what the defense is allowed to present. They will put forth a self defense strategy but it will look a lot like jury nullification.

I’m not following the day to day of the trial but it seems they will say he heard a gunshot then was attacked by adult criminals. I don’t know what the judge will allow about the victim’s background but that tends to be more lenient than bringing in the defendants record.

FYI, this account is live tweeting the trial, for those who are interested in following along.

This is what I recalled from conversations on the SDMB closer to the time. As I recall, I ended up convinced that Wisconsin generally permitted 17 year-olds to possess long-guns. But at the very least, it was a very confusing set of statutes.

If I’m not mistaken - and this may get into Stand Your Ground territory, which I don’t know if Wisconsin has or not - even if you committed a crime a few moments ago, someone cannot use force on you anymore if you are retreating. There was an example in Oklahoma where a shop owner was convicted of murder for shooting a robber who had already retreated and left the scene.

So no matter what Rittenhouse did prior to the shooting, he was already retreating and other people were pursuing and attacking him - so those other people did not have a right to use force against him, and his self-defense was justified.

Looks like they did end up removing the juror, for “racial bias”. Juror was a white retiree who joked, about the shooting of a black man which provoked the protests, “why did the police shoot him 7 times? Because they ran out of bullets”.

Ahhh, America… where white jurors are too racist against whites to sit on a jury.

You can’t make this shit up.

That’s what the defense claims. Prosecution claims that Rittenhouse was the aggressor:

In opening statements, the prosecution said evidence would show Rittenhouse chased down and fatally shot Rosenbaum, 36, and then shot at three other people who tried to confront what they believed to be an active shooter.

I don’t think it’s really about retreating per se. The idea behind self-defense claims is that you need to have a reasonable fear of imminent harm at the time of the force. Someone who is retreating likely does not still present a sufficient threat, even if they previously presented a sufficient threat.

Guns complicate matters, which is why all of these laws are fucking stupid in a country where a ludicrous proportion of the population is armed.

If you wave a gun in my face, then start backing away from me while still holding the gun, you are still a threat because guns are tools made for killing at long range. Obviously Rittenhouse still posed a deadly threat because HE MANAGED TO KILL TWO PEOPLE.

Once Rittenhouse established himself as a deadly threat by confronting people and waving his gun at them, his backing away DOES NOT SERVE TO LESSEN THE THREAT HE POSES TO THEM because guns can (and did in this case) kill at long range.

Which is why Rittenhouse placing himself in the position he placed himself in should, in any civilized country, result in him being found guilty of murder. This being the USA and Rittenhouse being white, it’s instead a crapshoot.

I haven’t been following the pre-trial news much, but heard a story on NPR earlier this week saying that the judge in the case has decided that the shooting victims could not be referred to as “victims”, but calling them “rioters” or “arsonists” was acceptable. :roll_eyes:. He sounds like a real piece of work.

That is correct:

I remember when this case first made the news, there were two videos going around that showed men rushing Rittenhouse and him shooting them. Which would seem at least suggestive of self-defense, but the claims being put out were that Rittenhouse was the aggressor, and the men rushing him were essentially trying to disarm him because he had shot someone. I deliberately chose not to follow this case too closely when it first broke, because I knew there would be so much rampant half-truths and general disinformation it wouldn’t be worth sorting through it.

Have any of these issues been clarified to any sort of neutral telling of events? Or is it still all kind of in limbo?