KENOSHA, Wis. — The jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse case have a three-day weekend before they have to deliberate the case. A nationally known jury consultant says that break could be an advantage to the prosecution.
The Rittenhouse trial has been emotional at times. Most recently, Rittenhouse cried on the witness stand. Jury consultant Robert Hirschhorn says those emotions can weigh on the jury. Hirschhorn has been a jury consultant on major cases throughout the country. He helped the defense select the jurors in the George Zimmerman case, he helped select the jury against Johnson & Johnson in the talc powder case and he helped select the jury in the 2003 Robert Durst case, the New York millionaire who was acquitted of killing and dismembering a neighbor.
Hirschhorn says it could have played a role in the judge giving the jurors Friday off along with the weekend.
"I think the judge’s ultimate goal is to make sure the jury is going to make a verdict based on the evidence and not passion or emotion,” said Hirschhorn.
Hirschhorn says that break usually helps the state.
"I personally think it's going to be to the benefit of the prosecution, because now jurors going to have time to kind of process everything, think through everything and the emotion of the defendant testifying and crying. I think it is going to wane over the course of these three days, advantage prosecution,” he said.
The judge chose not to sequester the jury during the three day weekend, but did order them not to talk to anyone or read anything about the case. However, avoiding social media could prove difficult.
A study by Statista found last year, the average person spent around two hours and 25 minutes a day on social media. Facebook shows 1.9 million people are currently talking about the Rittenhouse case.
Hirschhorn says it is unrealistic to think a jury won’t talk about the trial, and even if the don’t look something up about the case, their friends and family likely will.
"Here's what reality is. The reality is jurors talk to their loved ones, jurors talk to their kids, jurors may make comments, people are always making comments to jurors,” said Hirschhorn.
But going against the judges orders has its consequences. A Reuters study from 2010 found at least 90 verdicts were challenged because of a juries misconduct on the internet. Twenty-one cases were either retried or overturned. However, Hirschhorn says that is rare.
“I don't think that's what's going to drive this verdict. I like to believe it's going to be driven by the evidence and the testimony, not any kind of communication that occurred outside the courtroom,” said Hirschhorn.