Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who was in charge of the criminal trial of the confessed perpetrator of the Parkland shooting Nikolas Cruz should be publicly reprimanded for how he handled public hearings, a Florida judiciary commission concluded in a report to the state Supreme Court.
A panel of the Florida Commission on Judicial Qualifications investigated Scherer's performance in that high-profile trial that concluded in 2022 with a life sentence for Cruz, who 2018 killed 17 people shot at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland (southeastern state).The conclusion of the investigation, published in Florida court records, is that Scherer did not do his job well. work and should be publicly reprimanded for it, but the Florida Supreme Court will have the last word in this case.
The 46-year-old judge especially failed to stop the “vitriolic statements” addressed to Cruz's lawyers by the families of the victims of the massacre because, on occasions, he allowed himself to be carried away by his emotions and not by his good judgment.
The investigative Commission recognized
“That the worldwide publicity that surrounded the case generated stress and tension among all the participants”, but he pointed out that this does not mean that judges must “guarantee due process, order, and decorum, and always act with dignity and respect to promote the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary”.
The Florida Supreme Court removed Scherer from a case against Randy Tundidor that implied the death penalty, arguing that the magistrate had not shown neutrality in the process against Cruz.
The Supreme Court magistrates noted, in a unanimous decision, that immediately after sentencing Cruz, Judge Scherer “left the bench and, still in her judicial gown, exchanged hugs with the families of the victims and members of the Prosecution team.”
Cruz was spared a death sentence because there was no unanimous jury, a requirement that is no longer necessary in Florida, under a new law sponsored by Governor Ron DeSantis, who expressed his discontent that the young man was sentenced “only” to life imprisonment.
The new law establishes that it is enough for eight of the twelve members of the jury to agree to impose the death sentence on a convicted person.