James Morrison was identified by the Kenosha, Wisconsin, judge presiding over the Kyle Rittenhouse trial as the man affiliated with MSNBC who was accused of following a bus full of jurors. NBC says he is a freelancer and that the incident was misconstrued.
Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty by a Kenosha jury of all charges on November 19, 2021. Read more about the verdict here.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder released Morrison’s name in court on November 18, 2021, calling him James Morrison, although he is also known as Jamie Morrison. Schroeder said that Morrison claimed his supervisor was Irene Byon, who works for MSNBC in New York.
Schroeder described in court how he received a Kenosha police report that alleged a person who claimed he was an MSNBC employee ran a red light. Police told the judge they thought Morrison was following a bus full of Rittenhouse jurors.
According to Law and Crime, NBC News argued that police “were mistaken as to the individual’s intent.” Law and Crime described Morrison as a “freelancer,” although FoxKC described him as a producer for NBC. Heavy has contacted NBC News public relations for additional comment.
Here’s what you need to know:
Schroeder Banned MSNBC From Court Because of the Incident
“The matter is under further investigation at this point,” Schroeder said in court. But he then banned MSNBC from the courthouse.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC news will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” Schroeder said in court. “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 a jury bus — that is a very — it’s an extremely serious matter — and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
Heavy contacted Kenosha police to seek the ticket.
The judge said in court, “We’ve received a report this morning from the Kenosha Police Department that last evening… a person who identified himself as a James J. Morrison, who claimed that he is a producer with NBC News — employed by MSNBC — and under the supervision of a person named Irene Byon… the police stopped him because he was following in the distance of … they pulled him over and inquired about that was going on and he gave that information,” Schroeder said.
Police Tweeted That Morrison Alleged He Was ‘Affiliated With a National Media Outlet’ & Accused Him of ‘Trying to Photograph Jurors’
Kenosha police tweeted about the incident.
“Last night a person who is alleging to be affiliated with a national media outlet was briefly taken into custody and issued several traffic related citations. Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors. This incident is being investigated much further,” Kenosha police tweeted.
They added: “There was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained. This investigation remains active and open, no further information.”
NBC Says the ‘Freelancer’ Never Intended to Contact Jurors During Deliberations
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation,” an NBC News spokesperson said to Law and Crime.
“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.”
The name James Morrison appears on an old NBC story about officers being charged in the Rayshard Brooks police shooting in Atlanta.
Byon Has Deleted Social Media Accounts That Referred to Her as a ‘Booking News Producer’
A Google cache of Byon’s LinkedIn page reads, “San Diego, California, United States · Booking News Producer · NBC News. Pitched, researched, shot, wrote and edited day-of-air packages for live nightly newscasts. As one-woman band, covered breaking news…”
Byon’s LinkedIn profile is no longer available. Screenshots of her Twitter and LinkedIn page use the name Irene Min Joo Byon.
Her alleged Twitter page was saved in a web archive. The top post was a retweet of a New York Times story headlined, “Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody.”
There are social media accounts for a James Morrison who is an NBC producer but because of the commonality of the name they could not be immediately verified.