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Kenosha County Judge In Spotlight Following Recent Ruling Ahead Of Kyle Rittenhouse Trial

CHICAGO (CBS) -- After shooting three men, killing two, during a protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Kyle Rittenhouse's trial will begin Monday. However, it's the judge that is in the national spotlight because of his recent ruling before the trial.

CBS 2 investigator Megan Hickey has been digging into the judges controversial ruling about the case and history in making judicial waves.

The question is not whether then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum & Anthony Huber and wounded a third person with an AR-style rifle in August of 2020.

The question before Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder and a jury is whether or not he acted in self-defense.

This week Wisconsin's longest-serving circuit judge ruled prosecutors cannot refer to the three people shot as victims.

"The answer to your question is no, I have not experienced this before, and the word "victim" is used even for people who have died even as a result of an accident," said Northwestern law professor Juliet Sorensen.

Sorensen says Schroeder is trying to sanitize any negative connotation that could be drawn from the term to protect Rittenhouse's presumption of innocence.

However, the Schroeder also ruled that the defense may refer to them as arsonists, looters, or rioters if they can prove they participated in those activities.

"It is a double standard in favor of the defendant, but that's what our constitution requires," Sorensen said.

The 75-year-old judge has been making headlines for decades.

In 1987, Schroeder raised eyebrows when he required AIDS tests for convicted prostitutes as a condition of their probation.

The Associated Press reported between August and November 2006, about 250 defendants requested to switch judges rather than face Schroeder. And just three years ago, Schroeder was criticized for ordering public shaming as part of the supervision for a woman convicted of felony retail shopping theft. Saying then when she enters any store she must notify management at the service desk that she is on supervision for retail theft.

When it comes to the Rittenhouse case, Sorenson says it's important Schroeder be fair and impartial.

"The jury is the finder of fact the question is can they be fair? Just as well as the judge," Sorensen said.

Jury selection starts Monday for the trial - the judge says he's confident they will have the final group by the end of the day.

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