Judge Elizabeth Scherer Allowed ‘Emotions Override Judgment’ in Parkland Trial, Commission Says

State commission rules Parkland shooting judge should be reprimanded

State commission rules Parkland shooting judge should be reprimanded


The Florida judge who oversaw the punitive trial of Parkland school shooting victim Nicholas Cruz has shown bias against prosecutors, restraining victim’s family from ‘bitter words’ directed at Cruz’s lawyers can’t and sometimes should be publicly reprimanded for “feelings succumb to her feelings”. verdict,” the state commission concluded on Monday.

The Board of Judicial Credentials states that a circuit judge Elizabeth Scherrer During last year’s trial, Cruz’s actions against public defenders violated several rules governing judicial conduct. The six-month trial resulted in a life sentence for Cruz after jurors could not unanimously agree that the death penalty was warranted for the murder of 14 students and three faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. sentenced and ended.

The 15-member panel found that Scherrer had “unfairly reprimanded” lead court-appointed attorney Melissa McNeil and her team, falsely accused one of Cruz’s attorneys of threatening children, and closed the trial. Later in court, he was found to have inappropriately hugged prosecutors.

Lawyers unexpectedly adjourn Parkland shooting trial, sparking criticism from judge


A panel of judges, lawyers and citizens acknowledged that “the global coverage of this case has caused stress and tension for all involved.”

In any event, the Commission said judges were expected to “always act with dignity and respect to ensure due process, order and courtesy, and to promote judicial integrity and fairness.” said there is.

“In a limited case in this unique and long-running case, Judge Scherer overwhelmed his emotions,” the commission said in its report to the Florida Supreme Court for final decision.

September, Scherer rejected the motion After a dramatic week of trial, she was asked by her defense attorneys to replace her with a new judge. hot exchange between her and her attorney. Her complaint alleges that the judge exposed long-standing animosity toward the defense in the exchange and threatened the fairness of the trial.

According to a copy of the document obtained by CBS News, Scherer’s one-page order did not mention the specific allegations of the allegations, but the request was “legally inadequate.” It is said that it was considered.

Scherer Last month she announced her retirement The commission said the resignation was not part of the agreement made with the judge. According to the commission’s report, Scherrer said in testimony that her conduct during the trial “did not live up to” the expectations of the judge, and that “her treatment of the defense team was at times unbearable.” He wasn’t strong, he wasn’t dignified, he wasn’t polite.”

Scherrer, a 46-year-old former prosecutor, was named a lay judge in 2012, making the Cruz case her first death trial. Broward County’s computerized system randomly assigned Cruz’s case shortly after the shooting.

Her attorney, Thomas Panza, did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Broward County public defender Gordon Weeks declined to comment.

Mr. Scherrer’s handling of the case was frequently praised by victims’ parents and spouses for treating them with professionalism and kindness, but his clashes with Mr. Cruz’s lawyers were met with courtroom oversight. He was also criticized by some members.

Before the trial, she criticized two Sun Sentinel reporters for releasing legally obtained sealed Cruz education records. She threatened to tell the paper what she could and could not print, but she never did. Legal experts say such measures would be unconstitutional.

Mr. Scherrer also had frequent heated arguments with Mr. McNeil. Matters first came to a boil when McNeil and his team abruptly called off the case after calling only a handful of scheduled witnesses. Scherrer said the defense is not obligated to call all witnesses or pre-announce plans, but called it “the least desirable and unprofessional way to try a case.”

Ms. McNeill angrily countered, saying, “You are insulting me for the record in front of clients,” but Ms. Scherer told her to stop. Then she lay inside her.

“You were insulting me the whole trial,” Scherer barked at McNeil. “If you don’t like my verdict, you’re going to argue with me, you’ll be violent, you’ll be late on purpose. So, frankly, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. So sit down.”

In a motion filed in September by his defense, Mr. Scherrer’s remarks were “that Mr. Cruz feared that the court would be prejudiced against him and his lawyers and that he would not get a fair and impartial trial in the future.” I was justifiably apprehensive,” he said.

The two clashed again at Mr. Cruz’s sentencing hearing in November over verbal abuse some victims’ families made to his lawyers during court statements. Mr. Scherrer refused to restrain his remarks and fired one of Mr. McNeil’s assistants, David Wheeler, after he misinterpreted one of Mr. McNeil’s statements as a threat to his daughter.

After handing Cruz, 24, to life in prison without parole as requested, Scherer left the courtroom and hugged prosecutors and the victim’s family. She told her committee that she offered to hug her lawyers as well.

Following the lawsuit, the Supreme Court in April removed her from overseeing the post-conviction motion of another defendant, Randy Tandidore, who was sentenced to death for murder in the 2019 murder of a landlord. One of the prosecutors in the case was also on Cruz’s team, and at a hearing in the Tandidore case days after Cruz’s verdict, Scherer asked the prosecutor how he was holding up.

The court said Scherer’s actions at least gave the impression that it was not fair to Thandidore. Judge Elizabeth Scherer Allowed ‘Emotions Override Judgment’ in Parkland Trial, Commission Says

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