Defense Bar Association Disapproves of Judge’s Treatment of Parkland School Shooter’s Defense

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. –The president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers sent a letter Thursday to Broward County Chief Judge Jack Tuter disapproving of Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer’s handling of the Parkland School shooter’s defense.

Ernest L. Chang signed the letter saying that as representatives of the Criminal Defense Bar, they were appalled by Scherer’s “hostile and degrading treatment” of Public Defender Gordon Weekes and his aides during the court hearing. sentencing Tuesday.

“The image of a judge relegating an elected public defender and his best aide to sitting in the corner like misbehaving children is offensive and downplays their very vital and difficult role in this system,” Chang wrote.

In the letter, Chang accused some of the grieving families of victims of the 2018 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School of making “thinly veiled threats” during the sentencing hearing and Scherer asked that these be ignored.

“Parkland’s sentencing was a dramatic and painful, yet critical, exposure of our criminal justice system,” Chang wrote. “Defense attorneys vigorously represented their client knowing how reprehensible his actions were and how appalling most people found him.”

Related story: Video shows heated exchange between judge and Parkland shooter’s defense

Chang accused Scherer of failing to follow “Canon 1 of the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct”, which states that she should have applied “high standards of conduct”. He also urged Tute to “fix this” and “make sure” that Scherer won’t be “able to harm” business.

The Florida Bar is investigating one of Weekes’ aides: Broward Assistant Public Defender Tamara Curtis, who defended Nikolas Cruz. According to attorney Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the Florida Bar, the investigation was continuing Thursday. Davis did not specify the subject of the investigation.

Curtis was not in court Wednesday when Scherer sentenced Cruz to 34 consecutive mandatory life sentences without the possibility of parole and remanded him into the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections.

The families of the victims had the final say during a two-day hearing that allowed them to express themselves with symbolic colors, photographs of their loved ones on jewelry and signs — and behind a podium.

Related story: Fred Guttenberg calls for public defender’s resignation over remarks at hearing

An emotionless Cruz sat with a group of deputies from the Broward Sheriff’s Office behind him. He was next to Casey Secor, his capital defense attorney, and most of the public defense team members who fought to save his life and managed to convince three of the 12 jurors to do so. likewise.

Some of the victims’ relatives used their time behind the podium to condemn defense efforts to “humanize” “a monster”, “a murderous bastard” and “an animal” and accused them of “putting on a show” to “manipulate” jurors. J

“When these people are upset about specific things that happened from this table, like pulling the middle finger towards this court and laughing and joking… When these people sat in this courtroom and observed this behavior from this table and they want to say they’re not happy, what’s the problem?” Scherer told the defense.

“When these people are upset about specific things that happened from this table, like pulling the middle finger towards this court and laughing and joking… When these people sat in this courtroom and observed this behavior from this table and they want to say they’re not happy, what’s the problem?” Scherer told the defense.

Grieving parents who criticized the defense did not name Curtis, but some did mention and respond to The Law & Crime Network’s July 12 live stream which showed her raising her middle finger and rubbing it against her cheek before she and Cruz don’t laugh. His gesture during recess followed a discussion on a camera in the courtroom that focused on the defense.

Deputy Chief Public Defender Melisa McNeill disagreed with Scherer.

“I did my job, and every member of this team did our job, and we shouldn’t be personally attacked for that,” McNeill told Scherer.

After the sentencing hearing ended, Scherer embraced prosecutors. She also spent time with some of the relatives of the victims, some of whom had decided not to speak at the sentencing hearing, and she also hugged some of those who expressed their gratitude for the way she handled the case.

read the letter

RELATED STORIES

> Here’s what happened Day 1 of sentencing hearing

> Here’s what happened Day 2 of sentencing hearing

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Victim impact statements without restrictions

The family of murder victim Christopher Hixon

Debra Hixon

Natalie Hixon

Thomas Hixon

Ines Maria Hixon

Parents of murder victim Scott Biegel

Linda Biegel Schulman

Michael Schulman (Attention: Expletives)

The mother of murder victim Helena Ramsay

Anne Ramsey

The family and girlfriend of murder victim Joaquin Oliver

Patricia Padauy Olivier

Manuel Oliver

Andrea Ghersi

Victoria Gonzalez

The mother of murder victim Nicholas Dworet

Annika Dworet

The sister of murder victim Alaina Joann Petty

Meghan Petty

Father of murder victim Alexander Schachter

Max Schachter

Parents of murder victim Jaime Guttenberg

Jennifer Guttenberg

Fred Guttenberg

Father and brother of murder victim Gina Montalto

Anthony Montalto III

Anthony Montalto II

The family of murder victim Alyssa Alhadeff

Parents: Lori and Ilan Alhadeff

Grandmother: Thérèse Robinovitz

Grandfather: David Robinovitz

Uncle: David Alhadeff

Grandmother: the representative reads the declaration of Vicky Alhadeff

Reps read statements from Carmen Schentrup’s parents

Mother: April Schentrup

Father: Philippe Schentrup

Injured survivors and their families

Samantha Fuentes was injured in the classroom where Helena Ramsay and Nicholas Dworet died

Stacey Lippel was injured near where her colleague Scott Beigel was killed

Parents of injured survivor Benjamin Wikander: Bree and Eric Wikander

The mother of injured survivor Samantha Mayor: Ellyn Mayor

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