On Thursday, Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, started the day by recognizing all veterans in the courtroom.
“I wanted to observe that it’s Veterans Day,” Schroeder said. “Any veterans in the room, on the jury, or anywhere else?”
The judge identified at least one person in the room who had served in the United States armed forces — a defense witness who said he had served in the U.S. Army special forces.
Schroeder said, “I think we can give a round of applause to the people who have served our country.”
A day earlier, Judge Schroeder’s cell phone went off for a moment during the trial, revealing his ringtone to be Lee Greenwood’s hit “God Bless the USA.” Footage of the moment went viral on social media, with critics arguing the ringtone is evidence of the judge’s alleged bias.
“Apparently, the judge in the Rittenhouse case has Lee Greenwood as his ringtone. That’s literally the MAGA national anthem. Can’t we just jump ahead to the appeal?” writer Bryan Behar tweeted.
Commentator Lindy Li asserted that Schroeder has “Trump’s theme song” as his ringtone.
“The judge’s phone rang during the Rittenhouse trial,” Li tweeted. “It was Trump’s theme song which played every time he was on stage. I kid you not.”
“Same judge who just aggressively yelled at the prosecutor, prohibited him from calling the victims victims & is acting like Kyle’s defense lawyer,” she continued.
Li was referring to when Judge Schroeder admonished Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger for questioning the defendant’s previous decision to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent.
“The problem is this is a grave constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant’s silence, and that is, you’re right on the borderline. And you may be over, but it better stop,” Schroeder said. “I can’t think of an initial case on it, but this is not permitted.”
Schroeder stopped the trial once again and had the jurors temporarily leave the courtroom later that same day after Binger attempted to pursue a line of questioning that had not been approved, prompting an explosion from the judge.
“I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence. That’s basic law. It’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that! And it gives, well, I’ll leave it at that. So I don’t know what you’re up to,” Schroeder said.
“I have to be concerned that, with what Mr. Richards has said about the progress of the trial when you were way, well, I said you were close to or over the line on commenting on the defendant’s pretrial silence, which is a well-known rule,” the judge later continued. “I am astonished that that would have been an issue. So I don’t want to have another issue for as long as this case continues. Is that clear?”
“It is,” Binger responded.