The morning of Thursday, November 18th, 2021 started off with a bang as court was called to order in Wisconsin. Judge Bruce Schroeder banned all staff from MSNBC from the courthouse for the duration of the Rittenhouse trial after one of their employees was caught following and filming a bus that transports the Jury to and from the courthouse.
Rittenhouse judge bans MSNBC from courthouse as jury continues deliberations pic.twitter.com/r4NTRKEqjZ
— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 18, 2021
According to information passed along to the judge, the MSNBC employee known as James J. Morrison was following the jury bus and actually ran a red light to keep them in view. He said he was doing so under directions from his supervisor. Because of the explanation and the proximity to the jury’s transport, Judge Schroeder treated the matter very seriously and then banned MSNBC staff from his courtroom for the duration of the trial.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC news will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” Schroeder said. “This is a very serious matter and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely it would go without much thinking that someone who is following the jury bus – that is an extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
There was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained. This investigation remains active and open, no further information.
— Kenosha Police Dept. (@KenoshaPolice) November 18, 2021
A spokesperson for NBC told Fox News that “Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them. We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”
So, what is jury tampering? US Legal says, “A person commits the crime of jury tampering if, with intent to influence a juror’s vote, opinion, decision or other action in the case, he attempts directly or indirectly to communicate with a juror other than as part of the proceedings in the trial of the case. Jury tampering may be committed by conducting conversations about the case outside the court, offering bribes, making threats or asking acquaintances to communicate with a juror.”
Who counts as a member of the jury or a juror? Once again US Legal tells us that “a juror includes any person who is a member of any jury, including a grand jury, impaneled by any court or by any public servant authorized by law to impanel a jury. The term juror also includes any person who has been summoned or whose name has been drawn to attend as a prospective juror.”
What kind of punishments can one face for jury tampering? That depends on the state. In this example, Wisconsin considers communication with a juror and Class I Felony, the least severe kind of felony one can commit. The maximum punishment would be three and half years and a find of $10,000.
Other states vary when it comes to jury tampering. In states like Louisiana, the person who threatened, communicated, or tried to sway the outcome of a criminal trial can be punished with the same length of sentence or amount of fine as the defendant.
At this time there is no evidence that the staffer had images of the jury or it’s transport.