Broward judge ‘didn’t get memo’ on Juneteenth

Judge Elizabeth Scherer speaks during jury pre-selection in the penalty phase of the trial of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Tuesday, April 26, 2022. (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool) (Amy Beth Bennett, © South Florida Sun Sentinel 2022)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said Monday in court that she didn’t know what Juneteenth was.

Scherer, who is presiding over Nikolas Cruz’s death penalty trial, said she ignored why the court will be closed on Monday, June 20, 2022, the 187th Juneteenth.

“I don’t know if that’s like a new thing. The courthouse is closed ... Sorry, it’s something I should know, I guess ... I didn’t get the memo, or maybe I missed it ... by the way, there is like a hint that it has something to do with Father’s Day,” Scherer said.

President Joe Biden recognized Juneteenth on June 17, 2021, as the United States’ second independence day and a federal holiday.

“On June 19th, 1865, a major general of the Union Army arrived in Galveston, Texas, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation and free the last enslaved Americans in Texas from bondage,” Biden said during his speech.

Biden also said it was a day to “remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take” also known as “America’s original sin.”

Scherer presented a tentative schedule to continue jury selection in Cruz’s case. She said she wants to start the pending motions on June 23rd.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder. When he was 19 years old, he confessed to using an AR-15 rifle during the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Scherer’s goal is to find 12 jurors and 6 to 8 alternate jurors who are ready to listen to testimony this summer, so they can decide if Cruz should be executed for his crimes. Without unanimous consensus, Scherer will have to sentence Cruz to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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About the Authors:

Christina returned to Local 10 in 2019 as a reporter after covering Hurricane Dorian for the station. She is an Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist and previously earned an Emmy Award while at WPLG for her investigative consumer protection segment "Call Christina."

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.