'You're out of line': Judge Elizabeth Scherer BLASTS Nikolas Cruz's defense after remarks about her children
'You are inappropriate and out of line, Go sit down,' Judge Scherer said to Defender Gordon Weekes
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: A heated argument erupted in a courtroom where Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer could be seen furiously scolding members of the defense team during the sentencing hearing for convicted Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz on Tuesday, November 1,
The alleged brawl emerged after one of the grieving fathers raised a comparison about the defense’s “tolerance for murder” and mentioned the defense’s children. After which Defender Gordon Weekes told Scherer that victims were taking jabs at Cruz's defense team and their children and that such behavior was inciting violence to which the prosecution objected.
"I feel that 99% or a great percentage that has been said has been appropriate," Scherer said. "Everybody has maintained decorum but for a few comments. It's best to just move on as opposed to highlight them." But Weekes said he was "witnessing a building of momentum." "And I'm encouraging the court to direct the state to tap down on that momentum so it does not reoccur and it does not become a theme," Weekes added. However, Chief Public Defender David Wheeler pressed Scherer, wanting to know if the court was going to do anything to stop the behavior from repeating.
Scherer then added, "When these people are upset about specific things that have gone on from that table like shooting the middle finger up at this court and laughing and joking – Ms. (Melisa) McNeill (lead defense attorney), be quiet – when these people have sat in this courtroom and watched this behavior from that table and they want to say that they're not happy about it, what is the problem?" Wheeler then pointed out that he took offense to testimony that was made about his children. "I didn't even know you have children," Scherer said. "I don't even know what you're talking about."
Then Wheeler told Scherer that "if they were talking about your children, you would definitely notice it." "You need to sit down right now," Scherer said to him. "You're out of line. In fact, you're excused. You need to go sit in the back with your chief public defender." "He's the public defender," Wheeler added. "Mr. Weekes, please ask the lawyer from your office to go sit down and not say anything else," Scherer said. "To try to threaten my children and bring up my children is inappropriate. Go to the back of the room now." Weekes then returned to the podium to speak with Scherer and added, "Judge, the same venom that the court is expressing is the same venom that defense counsel had to sit through.” But Scherer wasn't having it and said, "You have absolutely no right to have one of your assistants come up here and suggest something about one of my children." “You are inappropriate and out of line. Go sit down,” Scherer remarked, adding, “We are moving on with the sentencing.”