Thomas Binger (seen above during closing arguments in Kenosha on November 15) was widely criticized for his handling of the prosecution of Kyle Rittenhouse
Thomas Binger is a seven-year veteran at the law office run by Kenosha County's top prosecutor, Michael Graveley.
Graveley did not personally handling the high-profile Rittenhouse case because he was tasked with the investigation into the police shooting of Jacob Blake at the time Rittenhouse was charged. It was Blake's shooting on August 23 that sparked the Kenosha riots.
Binger and Judge Bruce Schroeder, who sits on Kenosha County Circuit Court, clashed frequently in the run-up to the trial, and the proceedings were as explosive as expected.
Schroeder, who at 75 is the longest-serving active circuit judge in Wisconsin, has the reputation of being a stern judge who often hands down tough sentences.
The website Wisconsin Right Now described his approach as 'bizarre', saying that he frequently made moves that seemed to help the defense in their argument that the teenager acted in self-defense - such as discussing the chaos engulfing Rittenhouse as he opened fire, showing videos of violent protest, and leading Rittenhouse to say that he wanted to help people.
Binger graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1996 and became a criminal prosecutor at the Milwaukee County District Attorney's office in 1999, where he eventually rose to the rank of assistant district attorney.
He went on to work for the DeMark, Kolbe & Brodek law firm as director of litigation in 2005 before joining the Kenosha County District Attorney's Office in 2014.
In 2016, Binger ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the district attorney's seat in Racine County, telling the Journal Times: 'In the last two years as a prosecutor, I have won 13 jury trials. I have convicted murderers, rapists, child molesters, drug dealers, drunk drivers, home-invading burglars and men who abuse women.'
He is married to Nicole Gustafson-Binger, a mental health counselor for Oakwood Clinical Associates. They have three children.
In the lead up to the Rittenhouse murder trial, Binger lost the chance to link Rittenhouse to the Proud Boys extremist group.
He was later strongly criticized by Judge Schroeder, in pre-trial hearings, after arguing that defense lawyers should not be able to tell jurors about Joseph Rosenbaum's destructive actions during the riot, including setting a dumpster on fire.
'All we're talking about is arson. We're talking about being loud and disorderly,' Binger said.
Schroeder cut him off and raised his voice.
'I can't believe some of what you're saying,' he said. 'All we're talking about is arson? Come on!'
Schroeder during the trial reprimanded Binger for bringing up information that had previously been barred from the court about Rittenhouse's history with an AR-15 rifle. An incident was caught on video two weeks prior to the shootings in which Rittenhouse talked about shooting men he believed were shoplifting at a pharmacy.
Schroeder had already ruled video inadmissible.
'You're an experienced trial attorney and you're telling me when the judge says, 'I'm excluding this' you decide to bring it in because you think you've found a way around it,' Schroeder asked. 'Come on!'
Binger replied: 'You can yell at me if you want. I was acting in good faith.'
Judge Schroeder responded: 'I don't believe you. When you say you were acting in good faith, I don't believe you. There better not be another incident.'
Rittenhouse's defense accused Binger of knowingly attempting to throw the proceeding because they were going badly for the state.
The defense on November 10 demanded a mistrial with prejudice, which would mean that Rittenhouse walks free and a retrial is not possible - a disaster for the prosecution.
Binger was heavily ridiculed online after he pointed an AR-15 at the jury during closing arguments.
At one point during the argument, Binger moved to 're-enact' what he claimed was visible on blurry drone footage, controversially brought before the jury.
According to Binger, Rittenhouse can be seen placing down the fire extinguisher he was carrying, pausing and raising his gun – pointing it at an unseen person off screen.
The moment was heavily ridiculed online, with many people comparing it to Alec Baldwin fatally shooting cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last month
Binger, holding Rittenhouse's AR-15 aloft, as he spoke, pointed it to the corner of the court.
This, he said, was the moment Rittenhouse 'lost the right to self-defense' and 'provoked' the violence that followed.
But that moment was heavily criticized online, as Binger apparently broke the first rule of gun safety.
According to the National Rifle Association, gun users should 'Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot [and] always keep the gun unloaded' until the owner is ready to use it.
'I've only been to a gun range once my whole life,' Dave Ramos tweeted after Binger pointed the gun with his finger on the trigger. 'First thing you're taught is you do NOT point a gun loaded or unloaded at anything you do not intend to destroy especially another person.
'Binger's not only breaking the first rule of gun safety but also pointing it at the jury.'
Others made light of the situation, comparing Binger pointing the weapon at the jury to actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shooting and killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Rust last month.
Baldwin was reportedly told it was not loaded when he aimed the gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal and fired.
Elijah Schaffer, a host of Blaze TV, wrote: 'Rittenhouse prosecution DA points a gun at the jury, finger on the trigger, to give an example of what it looks like working with Alec Baldwin on a movie set.'
Benny Johnson, a columnist and podcast host, also wrote that 'Alec Baldwin would be proud,' and Jack Posobiec, the senior editor of Human Events, tweeted: 'Alec Baldwin, Thomas Binger. Do not trust liberals around guns.'
Stephen L. Miller, meanwhile, joked: 'Your honor, the prosecution calls Alec Baldwin to the stand.'
And another user wrote that 'Binger is a recent graduate from the Alec Baldwin School of Firearm Safety.'
The incident was just one moment of Binger's lengthy closing arguments in which he tried to portray Rittenhouse as a teenager looking for the 'thrill' of telling people what to do, 'running around with an AR-15' with 'neither the honor nor the legal right to do so.'
'These guys with the AR-15s are just wannabe soldiers acting tough, trying to manufacture some personal connection to this event, furthering their own personal agenda,' Binger argued, 'just a small part of the deluge of chaos tourists we saw here in Kenosha trying to feed off of what we were going through, despite everything we did to try and tell them, go away, stay out.'
He focused largely on Rittenhouse's actions that night, trying to counter Rittenhouse's assertions that Rosenbaum was causing trouble all night, swinging a chain, demanding people shoot him, spewing racial slurs and setting fires.
He described Rosenbaum as a small man, at 5-foot-4, with a 'Napoleon complex,' but was harmless.
'Oh, let me tell you all the awful things Joseph Rosenbaum did,' the prosecutor said.
'He tipped over a Port-a-Potty that had no one in it. He swung a chain. He lit a . . . Dumpster on fire . . . Oh, and he said some bad words. He said the N-word,' Binger claimed.
'If he were alive today . . . I'd probably try and prosecute him for arson. But I can't because the defendant killed him.
'But that's the way we deal with people that do these things. When you commit arson, we prosecute you. We don't execute you in the street.'
Mark Richards, the attorney representing Rittenhouse in the trial, meanwhile, claimed Rosenbaum was 'irrational and crazy.'
He said Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse down until he had him cornered. If Rosenbaum had taken Rittenhouse's gun from him he would have shot others, Richards said.
'Mr. Rosenbaum made a fatal mistake that day, chasing Kyle Rittenhouse into the corner,' Richards argued.
'He ran as far as he could, and he shot, four times in three-quarters of a second
'I'm glad [Rittenhouse] shot him because if Joseph Rosenbaum got that gun I don't for a minute believe he wouldn't have used it against somebody else,' he added. 'Mr. Rosenbaum was hell-bent on causing trouble that night.'
In his argument, Richards argued that the state's witnesses actually helped Rittenhouse's case, pointing out that a police detective seemed to agree that Rosenbaum came out of hiding to chase Rittenhouse; a forensic pathologist testified that Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum at close range, within four feet, and bolstering the defense argument that Rosenbaum reached for Rittenhouse's rifle; and others in Rittenhouse's group testified they had permission to guard the car dealership.
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10203911/Sole-survivor-Kyle-Rittenhouse-career-criminal-charges-dropped-just-trial.html?fr=operanews2152