Elizabeth Scherer: Florida judge removed from death penalty case for showing sympathy during Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's trial

Elizabeth Scherer: Florida judge removed from death penalty case for showing sympathy during Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz's trial
Last year in November, Elizabeth Scherer was forced to hand Nikolas Cruz a life sentence without the possibility of release (WPTV/YouTube/Screenshot)

BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: Judge Elizabeth Scherer of Florida has been removed from the case of a death row inmate after hugging the prosecutor and expressing sympathy to the state during Parkland school shooter, Nikolas Cruz's sentencing hearing.

Randy Tundidor, who received a death sentence in 2019 for killing his landlord, will no longer be subject to the judge from Broward County presiding over any post-conviction procedures, the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously, Fox News reported.


Nikolas Cruz's lawyers want judge Elizabeth Scherer removed from case over 'animosity' towards defence attorney

Nikolas Cruz sentenced to life, avoids death penalty after jurors fail to reach unanimous decision

Judge Scherer exchanged hugs with  victims' families, members of the prosecution team

Cruz admitted to killing 17 people on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in one of the bloodiest mass shootings at a school in US history. Cruz's sentencing hearing was held on November 1, 2022, and Tundidor claimed that Scherer "engaged in heated exchanges with Cruz's defense team, during which she accused a member of threatening her children and told two members to go sit down."


The jury was unable to agree on the death punishment after a three-month penalty trial. On November 2, Scherer was forced to hand Cruz a life sentence without the possibility of release. "Immediately after sentencing, Judge Scherer left the bench and, while still in her judicial robe, exchanged hugs with the victims' families and members of the prosecution team," the ruling says as per the report. Steven Klinger, an assistant state attorney for Broward who is also the prosecutor in Tundidor's case, is one of these individuals.

'Commiserating over their shared disappointment'

Klinger said that "words cannot describe" how he felt when Scherer inquired about him two days later during an off-the-record status hearing in Tundidor's case, the ruling states. It was implied by Tundidor that the two were "commiserating over their shared disappointment at the outcome of [Cruz's] case." Tundidor appealed Scherer's denial of his request to remove her from his case, and the state Supreme Court ruled on his appeal on April 13.


'Fair and impartial proceeding'

The panel concluded that Scherer's acts "showed a sympathy with the State" and would make a reasonable person fear that they would not be subjected to a "fair and impartial proceeding." The court's ruling notably mentions Scherer hugging Klinger "in the courtroom while still wearing a robe" and their private conversation two days later, during which they allegedly bonded over the jury's decision not to execute Cruz.

It wasn't the first time Scherer's behavior had drawn criticism. Cruz sought a mistrial but it was rejected on the grounds that the judge had yelled at his attorneys numerous times, even in front of the jury. The request from the defense attorney, Melisa McNeill, said that the court's "animosity" toward her is "long-held and has infected the entire trial."

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 Elizabeth Scherer: Judge removed from case for showing sympathy during shooter Nikolas Cruz's trial