So much for impartial: Judge in Parkland shooter trial criticized for hugging prosecutors at its conclusion


BROWARD COUNTY, FL- A Florida judge was criticized by some last week after she hugged prosecutors at the conclusion of the trial of Nikolas Cruz, the lunatic who shot up Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018, killing 14 students and 3 teachers.

According to Local 10 in Fort Lauderdale, Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer drew criticism for some after she hugged prosecutors at the conclusion of Cruz’s sentencing hearing last week, which finally brought a conclusion to the nightmare which began on Feb. 14, 2018.

That conclusion came after two days of victim impact statements, where families of Cruz’s victims were allowed to lay into him. It was an emotional two days and some, including Attorney David Weinstein, a partner with Jones Walker Waechter in Miami, said the judge may have just been reacting to an emotional couple of days.

“The public defenders may now argue, based on the embraces that were observed of the prosecution team, that she may no longer be impartial,” said Weinstein, who has seen both the local and federal justice systems as a prosecutor.

Moreover, Scherer is already under criticism for her harsh treatment of Cruz’s defense counsel, in particular Public Defender Gordon Weekes, whom she ordered to “Go sit down!” a couple of weeks back. Local 10 notes that the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has asked Chief Judge Jack Tuter to look into the judge’s treatment of Weekes.

Aside from prosecutors, the judge also hugged families of the victims, including Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, parents of 14-year-old Jaime Guttenberg. Jaime was shot in the back as she ran away from Cruz on the third floor of the school’s 1200 building.

Fred Guttenberg was likewise irritated by Weekes’s conduct during the trial and has demanded he resign over his courtroom comments.

Meanwhile, Attorney David Bogenschutz of J. Bogenschutz & Associates law firm in Fort Lauderdale nodded agreement with Weinstein, saying that once a case is over some tend to let down.

“The optics of it are not real helpful,” he said, adding, “There are some people who would be a little concerned about that.”

He added that Scherer’s decision to hug the prosecutors could send the wrong message and could prove problematic with the perception of some.

“I think the defense attorneys in this county will latch onto that,” he said.

The Cruz trial is the latest where public defender’s office has had issues with Scherer.

“The perception is what the public defender’s office is going to work off of, and if they perceive there is a bias, then they might file a motion to recuse or disqualify the judge on every case where they represent a defendant in the courtroom,” Weinstein said.

According to Law & Crime, Scherer was extremely hard on the defense team throughout both portions of the trial, at one point criticizing the defense team for their “unprofessionalism.”

“I have never experienced a level of unprofessionalism in my career,” she said.

Scherer’s apparent knack of getting emotionally involved in the case, which is understandable given the gravity of the offense, was widely criticized by some legal observers, with some referring to her hugs of prosecutors as “Inappropriate,” “inexcusably improper,” biased, unfair and bizarre.

“Not even pretending to TRY to be unbiased & fair. This judge treated the defense team like shit. Just awful courtroom demeanor. No respect for the PDs. And of course, she’s a former prosecutor. Shameful.”

“I’m the chief prosecutor in my jurisdiction and while I’m not sure what interaction the judge had with the defense, this scene does not seem to me appropriate.”

“Professional tip to judges: Don’t do this.”


“I think that’s the ‘appearance of impropriety’ that the MPRE likes to test.”


“Apart from creating the appearance of bias, this is just bizarre. I feel comfortable saying right now, as a blanket statement, there is no situation in which I would like to hug a judge following the close of a trial.”


“How does this judge act towards defendants, defense counsel, and the prosecution when not nationally televised?”


“Apart from being wildly inappropriate b/c judges are supposed to be impartial—

Every public defender can tell you how judges have admonished us, as well as our clients & their families, from displaying emotion in the courtroom—including when a jury announces a verdict.”


“As a public defender, this is so, so gross and inappropriate.”


“I would bet if I reviewed enough convictions from this judge’s courtroom, I would be able to reverse several. It does not matter who the defendant is—here a total monster—this and her other behavior is precisely why innocent people have done 28,000 years in prison since 1989.”


“I once worked on a case where the judge hugged the defendant after the trial. That was inappropriate enough; this even more so.

Judges need to stay on the bench.”


Despite the apparent obstacles apparently put in place by the judge, this filthy piece of human garbage will be able to avoid the death penalty and will instead spend the rest of his miserable, insignificant life locked up in prison.

Still, Judge Scherer may yet have to face the music. If a complaint is indeed filed it would go before the judicial conduct board, which may then refer it to the Florida Supreme Court.

Under Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, it reads that a judge “shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety” in all of their activities.

“A judge shall not allow family, social, political or other relationships to influence the judge’s judicial conduct of judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that hey are in a special position to influence the judge,” the Code reads.

The only thing that could possibly mitigate what Scherer did was that it occurred after the proceedings had concluded.

In addition, Scherer did have a prior relationship in the prosecutor’s office, having served in such a capacity for around ten years.

She also worked alongside State Attorney Michael Satz, who led the prosecution of Cruz. She also likely knows at least a couple of the assistant state attorneys whom she hugged.

To Satz’s credit, he walked away prior to Scherer’s hugs and did not take part.

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