Florida Supreme Court Reprimands Parkland Shooter Judge for Being Mean to Defense Counsel

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, Pool)

The Supreme Court of each state is the final arbiter of attorney and judicial misconduct. That is the case in my home state. After I tried a case and the judge sentenced my client to twice the amount of time the prosecution was asking for, he spent 15 minutes talking to the jury about himself. He did it to further punish my client, who was bawling his eyes out. During the trial, as I cross-examined a witness, the prosecutor failed to make the right objection. The judge called us up to the bench and told the prosecutor how to object. I was stunned. I looked at the judge and told him he couldn’t do that. My complaint to the judicial council went nowhere. It was a bench conversation that the prosecutor said never happened.


In a civil trial, we lost almost all of our motions. After we won, we asked the judge why he denied our motions. He said, “I knew you guys were going to win. I didn’t want to give the plaintiff any unnecessary ammunition for an appeal.” Smart judge.

Judges are supposed to show impartiality during the trial. It doesn’t mean that they are, in fact, impartial or don’t want one side to win. But as trial lawyers, all we ask is that the judge act fairly.

I watched some of the Parkland shooter’s trial. The defense team was, in my estimation, a bunch of whiny jerks – and not because they were defending a mass murderer; it was because they acted with obvious disregard for the victims and their families who were in the courtroom and acted with contempt for the trial judge, Judge Elizabeth Scherer. The judge saw it. Everyone did. At one point, one of the defense attorneys “appeared” to flip off the judge. Shortly after the trial’s conclusion, I wrote about the defense team’s boorish behavior:

In Florida, the Parkland shooting trial is also wrapping up. Nikolas Cruz will disappear into prison – sentenced to life. His lawyers distinguished themselves with amateurish and boorish behavior. In the clip below, one of the attorneys was arguing post-trial about witnesses and making no sense. The judge had had enough. Instead of simply making his record he told the court, as he pointed at the judge, that bringing up his “children” was “highly improper.” The judge said: “Your children? I didn’t even know you had children, I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Also in the clip, she reminds the defense that one of the attorneys’ flipped her off by “scratching” her cheek with her middle finger. Cruz thought it was hilarious. The attorneys for Cruz were constantly joking and laughing with Cruz while the parents of dead children were offering their impact statements.





The defense counsel got their revenge. I am guessing, but it is likely that one or all of them filed complaints with Florida’s version of the judicial council. They got what they wanted. The Florida Supreme Court has disciplined Judge Scherer for what it described as showing favoritism toward the prosecution and, apparently, being mean to the defense attorneys. Right after sentencing, she left the bench and hugged the victims’ families as well as the prosecutors. Should she have waited to take her judicial robes off? Sure. Was it wrong to hug the prosecution while wearing her robes? Yes. As a defense attorney, does any of that bother me? No. Sorry, not sorry.

Scherer accepted her public reproval, and it appears she has “had it” with having to tolerate defense counsel flipping her off. She resigned her judgeship at the end of June.


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