Kenosha County, WI – Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder called attorneys into the courtroom on Thursday morning to announce that MSNBC has been banned from the courthouse for the duration of Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial.
Schroeder explained that the jury has been transported to and from the courthouse each day in a “sealed bus” with blacked-out windows so that they are not exposed to the chaos happening in front of the courthouse.
The judge said he had received a report from the Kenosha Police Department that a person was caught following the jury bus when it left the courthouse on Wednesday evening.
Schroeder said police told him they had stopped “a person who identified himself as James J. Morrison and who claimed he was a producer with NBC News – employed for MSNBC – … under the supervision of someone named Irene Byon in New York for MSNBC.”
Byon identified herself a booking producer for NBC News on her LinkedIn profile, which has now been taken down.
Schroeder said Kenosha police told him that Morrison was following about a block behind the jury bus and ran a red light.
“He stated that he had been instructed by Ms. Byon in New York to follow the jury bus,” the judge said.
Schroeder said that Morrison had received a ticket for running the light but that the matter was under further investigation at this point.
He also said that he had checked and Morrison wasn’t in the courthouse on Thursday.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” Schroeder announced.
“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 a very, extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for proper action,” he vowed.
The jury in the Rittenhouse trial began its third day of deliberations on Nov. 18.
The 18 year old is facing five felonies including murder for killing two men and wounding another during the Jacob Blake riots in Kenosha in August of 2020.
Kenosha police said on Thursday morning that they had taken someone into custody who was suspected of having tried to photograph the jurors, the Kenosha News reported.
However, police said they determined that the individual hadn’t taken any pictures of jurors.
This is not the first problem Schroeder had had with members of the media during the trial, the Kenosha News reported.
The judge has already kicked one member of the media out of the courtroom after they took a picture that inadvertently included the image of at least one juror.
Schroeder ordered the pictures deleted and banned the journalist from the courtroom, the Kenosha News reported.
WMAQ, the Chicago NBC affiliate, told the Kenosha News that the person stopped by police on Thursday night was an NBC producer.
"We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation," NBC adds (2/2) https://t.co/7LNnDbQErb— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 18, 2021
NBC News told CNN in a statement that Morrison was a “freelancer” who hadn’t contacted, and didn’t intend to contact, the jury.