12/3/2021, 12:12 p.m.
Justice is not blind.
That fact was confirmed in the recent trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old white boy who was acquitted Nov. 19 of murdering two protesters and injuring a third at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wis., and the trial of three white men who chased down and fatally shot 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger in a Georgia subdivision.
While the three Georgia men were rightfully convicted Nov. 24 of Mr. Arbery’s murder, we heard Judge Timothy Walmsley acknowledge that “there appeared to be intentional discrimination” when the defense attorneys struck eight Black people from the jury pool. But he let the trial proceed despite the fact that the 12-member jury had just one Black person. Glynn County, Ga., where the trial took place, is 25 percent Black.
In the Rittenhouse trial, Judge Bruce Schroeder would not allow prosecutors to refer to the two men shot and killed by Mr. Rittenhouse as “victims,” while he allowed defense attorneys to refer to them as “rioters” and “looters.”
Early on, Judge Schroeder also dismissed a misdemeanor weapons charge against Mr. Rittenhouse that resulted from a Wisconsin law making it illegal for a person under the age of 18 to possess a dangerous weapon. There was no dispute that Mr. Rittenhouse was 17 when he used an AR-15-style, semi- automatic rifle in August 2020 to kill the two men and wound a third, all of whom were white.
His acquittal gives succor to vigilantes and others who believe it’s OK to take the law into their own hands and then claim self-defense when they shoot and kill someone.
It also shows the power of money in the judicial system. Donors, including actor Ricky Schroder and My Pillow owner Mike Lindell, ponied up a total of more than $2 million for Mr. Rittenhouse’s bond and to pay for criminal defense attorneys his mother could not afford. The big legal defense fund also enabled his lawyers to hire a top jury consultant to help pick the jurors and to hold mock trials in which Mr. Rittenhouse could rehearse his testimony.
A GoFundMe page now has been set up by the fiancée of one of the three men convicted in Mr. Arbery’s murder to help fund an appeal of what is likely to be a lengthy prison term for him.
Both cases again raise the question of the fairness of a justice system in which police allowed Mr. Rittenhouse to walk away, rifle in hand, after shooting three people, and in which a judge allows a trial to continue when he admits the jury selection was biased. Those are just a few of the inequities.
Justice is not blind.