As the jury deliberated in the Kyle Rittenhouse case on Thursday, Judge Bruce Schroeder announced that individuals had followed the jury bus, following at a distance of "about a block." This individual claimed that he worked for MSNBC, and was instructed to follow the jury bus by the outlet.
As such, Schroeder banned MSNBC from the courtroom. The individual who followed the bus identified himself to police as James J. Morrison, and that individual reportedly said that he was following the jury bus at the instruction of Irene Byon, who is a booking producer with NBC in New York.
"Right this is pertinent to the case of the state against Rittenhouse," Schroeder told the court. "The media have been asking questions. There has been a conversation around this morning.
"We had asked the media coordinator to determine possible whereabouts of certain persons because we received a report this morning from the Kenosha police department that last evening, and let me just set this background here: The jury in this case is being transported from a different location in a bus with windows covered so that they don't have to look at any, aren't exposed to any signs by one side or another, or interest in the case and so it's a I'm going to call it a sealed bus, and that's been done every day and then they're brought here to this building.
"And last evening a person who identified himself as James J. Morrison, who claimed that he was a producer with NBC news but for MSNBC... under the supervision of someone named Irene Byon in New York, for MSNBC. Police stopped him, because he was following in a distance of about a block.
"They went through a red light on them over and inquired of him what was going on and he gave that information and stated that he had been instructed by Ms. Byon in New York to follow the jury bus.
"The matter is under further investigation at this point and the media has asked questions about it. That's the latest I have. And he was ticketed for violating a traffic signal. He's not here today from what I'm told. And I have instructed that no one from MSNBC news will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial. This is a very serious matter and I don't know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely go without much thinking as someone who's following as the jury bus that is a very, extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action."
LinkedIn shows Irene Byon as a booking producer for MSNBC. Muck Rack shows a James Morrison as having worked at NBC News, and a "Jim Morrison" is listed as an "anchor at NBC" on LinkedIn.
NBC confirmed that Morrison was, in fact, working for them as he drove after the jury bus. CNN's Brian Stelter reported that NBC issued a statement, reading:
"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."
There had been concerns about jury intimidation and the media's reporting on the case, which was mentioned by Schroeder during court on Wednesday. Earlier in the trial it was reported that someone was filming the jury.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
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