Former Parkland School Shooter Trial Judge Breaks Silence on Historic Case and Controversial Backlash

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Elizabeth Scherer, the former judge who presided over the death penalty trial for the Parkland school shooter, is now breaking her silence and discussing the historic case and the backlash surrounding it for the first time. Scherer, who served as a Broward County Circuit Court judge for 10 years, is currently working at her family’s law firm specializing in family law. This is a stark contrast from her time in the national spotlight as the presiding judge in the Parkland trial.

The trial of convicted shooter Nikolas Cruz, who was charged with the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 that killed 17 people and injured 17 others, lasted five years and garnered significant media attention. Scherer recalls being randomly assigned to the high-profile case the day after the shooting. Despite the challenges, Scherer reviewed all the evidence in the case, even visiting the classroom where the tragedy took place.

During the trial, there were several controversial moments that polarized trial watchers. Scherer acknowledges that she had to reprimand or censor attorneys outside of the presence of the jury. Some heated exchanges between the judge and the public defender, Melissa McNeil, were captured by the news media. Scherer believes that some of the defense team’s actions, like shooting the middle finger up at the court and making disrespectful remarks, were unprofessional and disrespectful.

Scherer admits to overreacting at times but stands by her decisions to maintain decorum and keep the trial fair for all parties involved. She faced criticism for her conduct during the trial, resulting in a public reprimand from the Florida Supreme Court. However, Scherer chose not to contest it to spare the victims and family members from reliving the trial.

Now, Scherer has transitioned to practicing civil law at her family’s firm. She mentions her love for horses as a way to decompress during the Parkland trial, specifically by riding them in Lexington, Kentucky. Scherer competes in amateur jump competitions and finds thrill and excitement in the fear that comes with it.

Scherer believes that legally, Cruz qualified for the death penalty and that the state met its burden of proof in proving his heinous and cruel actions. She still has a bond with the family members of the Parkland victims and refers to them as her “guardian angels.”

In conclusion, former judge Elizabeth Scherer is now reflecting on her role in the high-profile Parkland school shooting trial. She discusses the challenges she faced, the controversial moments that occurred during the trial, and her decision to leave the bench and practice civil law. Despite criticisms, Scherer stands by her decisions and maintains a strong connection with the victims’ families.