Judge Who Oversaw Parkland School Shooter Trial Reprimanded for Being Harsh to Defense Counsel

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.

We lost nearly all our motions in a civil case. We asked the judge, after we won, why he had denied our motions. He replied, “I knew that you were going to win.” I didn’t give the plaintiff unnecessary ammunition to appeal. Smart judge.

The judges are expected to be impartial during the trial. This does not mean they are impartial or do not want to see one side win. As trial attorneys, we only ask that the judge be fair.

I watched a portion of the Parkland Shooter’s trial. I thought the defense team acted like a bunch of whiny jerks, not because they were defending mass murderers, but because they showed contempt towards the families of the victims who were present in the courtroom, and they also showed disrespect for Judge Elizabeth Scherer, the trial judge. The judge noticed it. Everyone did. One of the defense lawyers “appeared to” flip off the Judge at one point.

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.”

In the video, she also reminds the defense that one of her attorneys “scratched” her cheek using her middle finger. Cruz found it hilarious. Cruz’s attorneys were constantly laughing and joking with Cruz as the parents of the children who had died were giving their impact statements.

The defense counsel got revenge. It is possible that all or some of them have filed complaints at Florida’s version judicial council. They got their wish. The Florida Supreme Court disciplined Judge Scherer after she was accused of showing favoritism towards the prosecution and being rude to defense attorneys. She hugged both the families of the victims and the prosecutors as she left the courtroom after the sentencing. Should she have waited before taking off her judicial gowns? Sure. Was it wrong for her to hug the prosecutor while she was wearing her robes? Yes. Does any of this bother me as a defense lawyer? No. Sorry, not sorry.

Scherer has accepted her public reproval and appears to have “had enough” of putting up with the defense counsel flipping her off. She resigned as a judge at the end of June. I can’t say that I blame her.