KENOSHA COUNTY, IL — The process for picking a jury in the highly-publicized Kyle Rittenhouse trial is underway as attorneys and the Kenosha County judge handling the case begin to discuss how to pick a “fair and impartial” jury panel.

Rittenhouse, 18, is accused of shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, amid protests in Kenosha in August 2020, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. His trial is currently slated to start in early November, with jury selection starting Nov. 1.

Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schneider, in a Sept. 23 letter to attorneys, said guidelines for the voir dire, which is the process used to pick a jury, will be discussed during an upcoming hearing. In the letter, Schneider noted he planned to not allow advance questionnaires.

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During a typical trial, jury selection is held in person and involves lawyers from both sides asking potential jurors questions with the hope of picking the most fair and impartial jury.

Schneider noted questionnaires sent out prior to jury selection could — as attorneys suggested —save some time, but “other considerations outweigh the possible advantage.”

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In his letter, Schneider detailed his points further to prosecutors and defense attorneys:

First and foremost, I am uneasy with the suggestion that their use will allow for advance “investigation” ofthe jurors’ potential biases. It is the unfortunate fact that summoned jurors often do not complete ordinary questionnaires or report to court when commanded to do so. I fear that the inclination to “opt out” oft his solemn obligation will only become more enticing if the prospective respondents fear that they will be investigated as part of their service.

Schneider also wrote that an advance questionnaire may not rule out a person’s biases or opinions in a highly-publicized case, and that many may not disclose their opinions in a written inquiry.

“Moreover, I would be concerned that we might lose large numbers of jurors who would conscientiously disclose current opinions which might, at voir dire, be abandoned after appropriate instruction,” he wrote. “It has been my experience that when jurors are accurately educated about the differences between court safeguards versus even the best media reporting and the worst common gossip, they are quick to abandon preconceived notions about outcome and commit themselves to adherence to our constitutional court standards.”

Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon; first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon; two counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide; first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon; possession of a dangerous weapon; and failure to comply with emergency management order of state or local government.

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