FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The judge who handled the Parkland mass shooting case is so biased in favor of the prosecution that she cannot be trusted to oversee cases handled by the Broward Public Defender’s Office, according to dozens of motions filed in court last week.
Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer drew criticism in the final days of the Parkland trial for hugging members of the prosecution team after proceedings had ended and for dismissing the concerns of defense lawyers who felt they were being berated for doing their jobs.
Lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill complained that the families of the victims of the Parkland mass shooting had taken their criticisms of the defense team too far, making allusions to the attorneys’ children and complaining about the lawyers’ professionalism. The Broward Public Defender’s Office was appointed to the case and legally required to provide the best case they could to preserve the life of defendant Nikolas Cruz, who was sentenced to life in prison even though prosecutors were seeking the death penalty.
Scherer downplayed McNeill’s objection and scolded Assistant Public Defender David Wheeler for insinuating that she would not tolerate such a reference to her own children. She also scolded the elected Public Defender Gordon Weekes, who made a rare public comment to express support for his staff.”
“This court treated counsels’ concerns with disdain and contempt, dismissing defense attorneys from the table and the podium,” according to the defense motions, which were filed on behalf of more than 140 defendants. “This court demeaned the work public defenders do and the integrity of the criminal justice system.”
Scherer has denied a handful of the motions so far with little explanation. Legal rules require her to comment only on whether motions for recusal are legally sufficient — any further comment would result in the cases being removed from her docket.
via Florida Sun Sentinel