Who is Tamara Curtis? Parkland parents blast Nikolas Cruz’s lawyer for flipping the bird in court
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA: Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz was sentenced to life in prison without parole after three jurors spared him the death penalty. He will be serving 34 consecutive life terms in prison. The 24-year-old was emotionless in court on Wednesday, November 2, 2022, as the victims' family members wept. Meanwhile, Cruz's attorney Tamara Curtis has been blasted for flipping the bird in court.
Throughout the nearly four-week death penalty trial, Cruz's attorneys had several clashes with Judge Elizabeth Scherer and had explosive exchanges. On one occasion, Scherer fumed as the defense tried to argue that they were being “personally attacked” by families of the victims in their statements.
"Sit down and move on!" Judge Elizabeth Scherer admonishes Nikolas Cruz's defense attorneys' objections to the Parkland victim impact statements.— Court TV (@CourtTV) November 1, 2022
The Public Defenders argue they were "personally attacked" by their client's victim's families. What do YOU think? pic.twitter.com/5qb1r4YyUf
Scherer scolded the lawyers, blasting them for past instances where they were allegedly spotted “laughing and joking” with Cruz behind the defense table. She also pointed to moments during a pre-trial hearing where attorney Tamara Curtis rubbed her middle finger on her cheek to flip off a courtroom camera.
THIS is the moment the judge was talking about. The week before the trial began and before a hearing began, two defense attorneys appear to notice the new camera setup. One seems to suggest they flip off the camera and then this happens:— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) November 1, 2022
#ParklandShooter https://t.co/aGUC8MOSMv pic.twitter.com/wZxWjF314f
“When these people are upset about specific things that have gone on from that table,” Scherer said, adding “Like shooting the middle finger up at this court, and laughing and joking — Mrs McNeill, 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?”
Who is Tamara Curtis?
According to The Florida Bar, Tamara Curtis is a Broward County Public Defender. She has attended Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Parents of the victims also slammed the attorneys for their behavior in court. Manuel Oliver, whose 17-year-old son Joaquin was murdered in the shooting, gave a lengthy victim impact statement. "Hiding your actions,” he said. "The middle finger, like. Apologizing for the middle finger. You need to learn how to do a middle finger." He raised his own at the defense table, saying, "So you don’t need to apologize to anyone.”
WATCH: #JoaquinOliver's father throws up his middle finger at the Parkland murderer's defense. "You need to learn how to do a middle finger. So you don't need to apologize to anyone," Manuel Oliver said. pic.twitter.com/hC2CO8gj26— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) November 2, 2022
Michael Beigel, the father of slain Parkland teacher Scott Beigel, said, "This man, this animal, this piece of s**t, this bastard took the lives of 17 people! You have a right to defend him. You have no right, no right to demean the people who lost somebody. None!"
Meanwhile, the parents of victim Nicholas Dworet condemned Cruz’s lawyers for holding, giggling with, and touching him, saying it was "one of the most disgusting and unprofessional actions.”
"This man, this animal, this piece of shit, this bastard took the lives of 17 people! You have a right to defend him. You have no right, no right to demean the people who lost somebody. None!" - Father of victim Scott Beigel to #ParklandShooter defense team. pic.twitter.com/XOHdGB5NaG— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) November 2, 2022
"One of the most disgusting and unprofessional actions": The mother of Parkland shooting victim #NicholasDworet called out the gunman's defense team for holding, giggling and touching with the murderer. "We found this to be so offensive to our family," she said. pic.twitter.com/IzIXKbLKGG— Law&Crime Network (@LawCrimeNetwork) November 2, 2022
Michael Schulman, the father of murdered teacher Scott Biegel, said, "Zealous representation of a confessed murderer does not mean flipping the bird when you think the cameras aren't on you. You should be embarrassed. You had the balls to say no one has endured what he has endured."
Judge Elizabeth Scherer thanked the victims' parents for being "strong and patient" throughout the sentencing phase of the trial. Under the law, the judge was powerless and had no option but to impose a maximum term of life in prison. While the victims' families asked for the death penalty, a lone, hold-out juror decided against it. Cruz reportedly cannot benefit from any money donated to his prison account, the Daily Mail reported.
Cruz, then 19, shot dead 14 students and three staff members at his former school Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in south Florida on February 14, 2018. He pleaded guilty to 17 counts of first-degree murder last fall in connection with the shooting. Families of the victims are horrified at Cruz dodging the death penalty and said that they hoped he is murdered in jail.