A lawyer for Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse resigned from his criminal defense shortly after the prosecution argued that he should be prevented from representing the 17-year-old because of his fundraising efforts.
The Los Angeles-based attorney John M. Pierce confirmed that he will withdraw from defending the teenager, and attorney Mark Richards will now represent Rittenhouse in the criminal case.
Pierce said he will instead focus on raising money for the defense team.
Pierce, along with Rittenhouse’s fellow attorney Lin Wood, was able to raise the $2 million needed to bail the teenager following a successful fundraising campaign.
“So that Kyle’s supporters are not surprised, I am now handling all civil matters for Kyle, including his future defamation lawsuits,” Pierce tweeted. “I will also orchestrate all fundraising for defense costs. The great Mark Richards will continue in Wisconsin.”
The decision came after Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger filed a motion in court, arguing that Pierce should not be allowed to represent the murder suspect because he allegedly had “significant personal financial difficulties” and that “money that should be held in trust for the defendant can instead be used to compensate Attorney Pierce’s numerous creditors.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the motion argued that Pierce’s fundraising efforts may violate the Wisconsin Attorney’s Code of Conduct for Attorneys, as well as his alleged financial difficulties.
The Tribune reports that in 2019 Pierce filed court records showing that he had no income, monthly expenses in excess of $49,000 and approximately $1.2 million in various debts. He was also sued in July on charges of breaking a lease for a $1.3 million home in Ventura County, California.
“This creates a potential conflict of interest for attorney Pierce,” the motion says.
“Given his own considerable personal debt, his involvement in an unregulated and opaque ‘slush fund’ provides ample opportunity for self-deception and fraud. The more the Foundation raises in donations, the more he can personally benefit from it”.
Pierce previously confirmed that he withdrew from the #FightBack Foundation, which serves as Rittenhouse’s fundraiser, to avoid any “appearance of conflict” with his client.
The #FightBack Foundation, which is run by Wood, is also used to prove the controversial allegations of mass election fraud in the elections.
Pierce has been contacted for further comments.
Elsewhere, a judicial commissioner from Kenosha County Court ruled that Rittenhouse could be tried on murder charges after his defense team failed to dismiss two of his charges during a preliminary hearing.
The defense requested that the 17-year-old be dropped from the charge of recklessly endangering the safety and possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor against him, arguing that the weapons charge constituted a violation of his rights under the 2nd Amendment.
The attorneys further argue that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and seriously injured Gaige Grosskreutz during the Black Lives Matter protest on August 25.
Binger said it was for the jury to decide whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, not for a preliminary hearing.
“All this court needs to determine is that a crime has been committed and is likely to have been committed with this defendant,” Binger said, TMj4 reported.
The court agreed and ruled that Rittenhouse should be tried in Wisconsin on two counts of first-degree premeditated murder, one count of attempted first-degree premeditated murder and two counts of negligent endangerment of first-degree safety.
Rittenhouse is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment on January 5.