One of the things that really bothered me about the Rittenhouse trial had nothing to do with the case itself.
I’m no expert, this is what I logically think from what I know and saw, combined with what my gut tells me. It’s been discussed already (at least at “some” news networks) how unprofessional the prosecutor was (and fun fact, he raised the AR-15 in the courthouse with his finger on the trigger). But I try to view it from 10,000 foot. Here goes.
A defense attorney’s job is to protect the client. He/she might, or even most likely, knows, under privilege, if the client is guilty. Regardless, the defense attorney’s obligation is to defend and get the best outcome possible for the client, using all possible tactics allowed within the boundaries of the law.
A criminal prosecuting attorney’s job is to prove a defendant is guilty. He/she is appointed by the justice system, a public official. The attorney represents the department of justice, regardless if being a local, state or federal attorney.
My take is – the prosecutor, as a government official, should always act by the book to a T. No gray areas, no slimy tactics, nothing below the belt, everything clean and clear. The government reputation is reflected in how the attorney conduct business. The goal is not winning a case, the goal is making sure the legal system is applied the the best way possible.
The defense attorney has only his or her reputation at stake. The goal is winning, with the best outcome to the client, within the boundaries of the law, but with the ability to push and stretch the law as needed to optimize the defendant’s, the client’s, outcome.
That’s how I think this is supposed to be. What I saw in the Rittenhouse trial was the opposite. The defense attorney seemed honorable, was not trying to pull any dirty tricks, presented facts in a clear and open manner. If he did any “maneuvers” that, in my limited knowledge of this case, I’m not aware of, they weren’t obvious to me.
The prosecutor on the other hand, in what seemed to be a combination of intentional moves and unprofessionalism, represented the DOJ in a very bad way. From constitutional related mistakes to providing the defense with inferior quality video, trying to reference a recording from before the incident to make a point, questioning why Rittenhouse said he was protecting his community (the answer was “my father lives there”), stating that you lose your right for self defense when bringing a gun, etc. , not just “unclean” but in some cases plain wrong.
This is of course my opinion, from watching parts of the trial not the whole thing, and is based on the what I heard and saw as well as my impression of how the attorneys talk and present themselves. For me, the bottom line is the impression that these attorneys made on me, and by far the defense attorney was way more credible than the prosecutor, which is sad as it reflects back on the public justice system. I’m happy the judge made a good impression, and that the jury seemed to take their decision seriously and took their time before making the decision.
It will be interesting to see how the future of the prosecutor’s carrier will look like.