‘It’s a very rare remedy’: Former Rittenhouse defense attorney breaks down possibility of mistrial

MADISON, Wis. — The judge presiding over Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial is considering a request for a mistrial after the prosecutor asked Rittenhouse a series of seemingly off-limits questions while the 18-year-old was testifying.

A defense attorney who briefly represented Rittenhouse in the case said it’s unlikely that will happen.

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Jessa Nicholson Goetz, a Madison-based defense attorney who briefly served on Rittenhouse’s counsel, said if Judge Bruce Schroeder was going to grant it, he would have done it then and there.

She said when a jury is sworn in, prejudice attaches. That means if the defense causes a problem in court and a new jury is needed, the state can choose to re-try the case. But if the state is the bad actor — as Rittenhouse’s attorneys claimed in court on Wednesday — and the court determines the state tainted the jury, then mistrial is one of the punishments.

“It’s a very rare remedy,” Goetz said. “A prosecutor has to go very far, far from his normal courtroom behavior to do that to a jury so adversely that a mistrial with prejudice is granted.”

Nicholson Goetz said it’s proper for the defense to ask in this case because they’re following typical legal procedure. From experience though, she said nobody expects a mistrial to actually happen.

After watching Rittenhouse’s testimony, Nicholson Goetz said the defense’s questioning was very straightforward while the prosecution’s cross-examination was “all over the place.” She said she expects the jury’s verdict to come either very quick or take a very long time. Either way, she doesn’t expect it to go into a third week.

Nicholson Goetz said she ultimately left Rittenhouse’s defense team due to a conflict with an out-of-state attorney.