Judge in Parkland school shooter case refuses to step down

The judge overseeing the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz refused to step down Monday.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The judge overseeing the penalty trial of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz refused to step down Monday, rejecting a motion by his attorneys who accused her of being biased against their client and prejudicing the jurors who will decide if he should die for murdering 17 people four years ago.

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer denied the motion, saying only it was legally insufficient. Scherer last week chewed out lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill and her team outside the jury’s presence, accusing them of being “unprofessional” when they unexpectedly rested their case after only about 25 of the 80 witnesses they had told her and prosecutors they intended to testify had been called.

Judge, lawyer have heated exchange after defense suddenly rests in Parkland school shooting trialSept. 14, 202201:46The defense said in court documents filed last week that those comments and ones the judge later made to the jury were “the zenith of the cumulative disdain” they allege Scherer has shown throughout the case toward Cruz and themselves. The defense had no obligation to call all its proposed witnesses or notify the judge or prosecution when they planned to rest, legal observers have said.

Prosecutors argued in court documents that Scherer’s comments didn’t rise to the level of demonstrating bias against Cruz. They cited a 1994 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says a judge’s “expressions of impatience, dissatisfaction, annoyance and even anger” against the defense are not grounds for stepping down.

If Scherer had stepped down, a mistrial would have been declared. The new judge would have required months of preparation before a new trial could be held.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/judge-parkland-school-shooter-case-refuses-step-rcna48491


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Seattle, Washington
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