FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Broward County Public Defender’s office has filed over 130 motions to keep a judge far away from cases.
Public Defender Gordon Weekes said the motions are about Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who presided over the Parkland school shooter’s penalty phase.
“We as their attorneys have a legal obligation to raise the issue and preserve it for the appellate courts to consider,” Weekes said.
On sentencing day, before Scherer officially sentenced Nikolas Cruz for the 2018 Valentine’s Day murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Scherer and Weekes had a heated exchange.
“As I watched this trial, I saw a building of anger and I saw that being directed largely to the work that the attorneys were compelled to do,” Weekes said adding the public defenders in the case were treated as “public enemy number one.”
Weekes accused Scherer of allowing “hateful speech.” The exchange, which resulted in Scherer ordering Weekes to sit down, followed years of tension between the judge and the defense.
Weekes said after sentencing the defense received threats through voicemails and emails and he said he believes that what happened in court helped to fan those flames.
“The court should have had a much stronger control of the courtroom recognizing there was going to be a lot of pain in that courtroom,” Weekes said.
Local 10 News reached out to the chief judge for comment, but there was no response. Scherer has maintained that she has only upheld the law.