A Tennessee lawmaker has introduced legislation to compensate defendants charged with criminal homicide who are found not guilty for reasons of self-defense.
The proposal, called "Kyle's Law," is named for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old Illinois man acquitted of two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, and other serious felonies in the shooting deaths of two men at a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges by a jury of his peers, who determined he acted in self-defense.
"Kyle's Law" states that a defendant can make a motion for reimbursement following a not-guilty verdict and the court would determine how much the defendant is entitled to. There is an exception that lets the court deny reimbursement in a case where the defendant's actions were found to be justified but the defendant was engaged in criminal conduct.
The bill's author, Republican state Rep. Bruce Griffey, told WZTV his bill was named "in honor of Kyle Rittenhouse" and that its purpose is to "strengthen protection of self-defense and Second Amendment rights in the state."
“Kyle Rittenhouse had to defend himself not only against a first-degree murder charge over the course of a year-plus politically-motivated prosecution and a two-week jury trial, but also against widespread defamation and false branding by corrupt media outlets, simply for exercising his American, God-given right to self-defense," Griffey said.
"Luckily, Kyle Rittenhouse was rightfully acquitted of all charges, but not after thousands of dollars were expended on attorney fees for his legal defense, reputational damage was incurred and emotional stress was suffered," he added. "Kyle Rittenhouse can never fully be made whole for what he was forced to endure, but under the law I’m proposing, if someone in TN is placed in the same situation as Kyle Rittenhouse in the future, he/she can at least be financially compensated. My bill will help deter what happened to Kyle Rittenhouse from happening to someone in Tennessee and will help protect the right of Tennesseans to self-defense."
According to WZTV, Griffey also presented a proclamation in the state House honoring Rittenhouse as "a hero who selflessly defended his community, protected businesses, and acted lawfully in the face of lawlessness” and “a symbol of things that the Left is trying to destroy—our Constitution and our Second Amendment gun rights” who “provides a light of hope that we can fight back against the enemies of our Constitution and win."