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Judge Bruce Schroeder finds spotlight in Kyle Rittenhouse trial

Nov 12, 2021


Bruce Schroeder is gaining national attention as he presides over the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. The longest-serving circuit court judge in Wisconsin took a hard line with prosecutors, at times clashing over an attempt to introduce testimony previously ruled inadmissible and over a reference to Rittenhouse’s silence following his arrest in Kenosha, WI.

Schroeder is presiding over one of the biggest trials of his career. Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, shot three people during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. The protests began after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back during a domestic disturbance. Rittenhouse has said he traveled to Kenosha to protect businesses from looting and arson. Two of the men he shot, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, died of their wounds. Rittenhouse also shot and wounded a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse contends he fired in self-defense and conservatives nationwide have rallied behind him, holding him up as a line of defense against chaotic protesters and a symbol of gun rights. Others, including liberals and activists, portray him as a domestic terrorist, saying he made a volatile situation worse by showing up with a gun.

Judge Schroeder, 75, graduated from Marquette Law School in 1970, worked as a prosecutor and began serving as a circuit judge in 1983. In Kenosha legal circles, Judge Schroeder has a reputation for strictness in sentencing. He is known for delivering lectures to prospective jurors about their civic duty, which in this trial he compared to serving as an American soldier in Vietnam.

“He’s just an old-school guy. He still operates his courtroom like it’s 1980,” said a seasoned southeast Wisconsin attorney who has appeared before Schroeder many times but asked not to be named because he still appears before Schroeder.

Schroeder also cautioned that media coverage of the case may have misled potential jurors.

“This case has become very political,” he said. “It was involved in the politics of the last election year. … You could go out now and read things from all across the political spectrum about this case, most of which is written by people who know nothing. I don’t mean that that they are know-nothings. I mean that they don’t know what you’re going to know: those of you who are selected for this jury, who are going to hear for yourselves the real evidence in this case.”

“Don’t get brazen with me”

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has put Wisconsin judge Bruce Schroeder in the spotlight.

His unique style has captured the attention of the country as he presides over the biggest trial of his career.

“And it isn’t coming in. No matter what you think”

Several heated exchanges stunned viewers.

Schroeder tore into a prosecutor Wednesday over his cross-examination of Rittenhouse.

“So I don’t want to have another issue as long as this case continues, is that clear?”

At 75, he’s the longest-serving active circuit judge in Wisconsin.

Schroeder has the reputation of being a stern judge who often hands down tough sentences.

Described by some attorneys as “old school.” He does not like to be “pushed around by either party.”