Judge Elizabeth Scherer, the Florida judge who presided over the Parkland school shooting trial, has been removed from a death row case.
Fox News reported Friday the Florida Supreme Court unanimously agreed Scherer would be removed from overseeing proceedings for Randy Tundidor after he was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his landlord in 2019.
In his motion to disqualify her, Tundidor accused Scherer of “conduct” in the case involving Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz “that has been viewed as exhibiting bias against the defense and defense counsel, and which was widely reported in local, national, and international press, and streamed live on social media.”
He claimed, “During Cruz’s sentencing hearing on November 1, 2022, Judge Scherer engaged in heated exchanges with Cruz’s defense team.”
Additionally, Tundidor said Scherer “left the bench and, while still in her judicial robe, exchanged hugs with the victims’ families and members of the prosecution team, one of whom was Assistant State Attorney Steven Klinger, who is also the prosecutor in Tundidor’s case.”
The court stated in its decision, “We conclude that the combination of certain circumstances contained in the allegations in Tundidor’s motion regarding the actions of Judge Scherer in the Cruz case on November 2, 2022, and in Tundidor’s case on November 4, 2022, which he alleged showed a sympathy with the State that was linked to the outcome of another capital case, would create in a reasonably prudent person a well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial proceeding.”
The court continues, “Because Tundidor’s motion provided a legally sufficient basis for disqualification, the trial court erred in denying it. We therefore quash the order denying it, grant a writ of prohibition, and direct the circuit court to reassign Tundidor’s case.”
In November, Scherer sentenced Cruz to life in prison for killing 17 students and staff at the school in 2018.
“I can’t help but think how I would behave or respond if I were in your shoes,” Scherer said to the families of the victims at the time.
Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz formally received a sentence of life without parole after families of his 17 slain victims spent two days confronting him directly, letting out their anger and grief. https://t.co/ayzd7kQzsv pic.twitter.com/rl23goTUCj
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 3, 2022
The judge also told the families if she “could take your pain away or carry your pain for you just for five minutes so that you could breathe, I would.”
Scherer continued, “I can’t even imagine what you go through today.”
She also recognized the sense of community among the families.
“I couldn’t help but notice that when the survivors came in and testified, their family units came with them and were there for them,” Scherer said.
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