Public reprimand may be coming for judge who oversaw Parkland shooting trial

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission released a report saying Broward County Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who presided over the Marjory Stoneman Douglas gunman’s trial, violated the rules.

During the trial, there were tense moments that attracted national headlines when Scherer seemed to lash out at the defense attorneys.

That is just one of the behaviors that will likely lead to the state Supreme Court publicly reprimanding the judge.

The judge’s actions violated code of conduct rules, according to the state commission overseeing the judicial system.

The commission said the judge’s conduct was “intemperate and gave the appearance of partiality to the prosecution.”

“We saw time and again that she lacked judicial demeanor,” said legal ethics professor Bob Jarvis.

The Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended that the state Supreme Court publicly reprimand Scherer.

“A public reprimand is really tantamount to a slap on the wrist,” said Jarvis. “It’s you did something wrong, but it wasn’t so egregiously wrong that we’re going to strip you of your robe.”

But Scherer will be leaving behind her robe at the end of the month. She announced in May that she will be stepping down.

Since then, she has not responded to Local 10 News’ requests for an interview; nobody came to the door Tuesday at her home in Fort Lauderdale.

Also at issue is the judge’s decision to hug members of the prosecution and family members following the trial.

“When she says it’s not the reason she stepped down, I believe her,” said attorney David Bogenschutz. “But being the legal reason you step down is maybe a little different from the emotional reason.”

Bogenschutz has represented judges before the commission before.

He said those investigations put tremendous pressure on judges, so while Scherer legally wasn’t required to resign, there’s no way to know whether the emotional baggage of the investigation may have played a role in that decision.

Both the public defender’s office and Scherer’s attorney declined to comment on Tuesday.

Read the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission’s full report below:

About the Author:

Cody Weddle joined Local 10 News as a full-time reporter in South Florida in August of 2022. Before that, Cody worked regularly with Local 10 since January of 2017 as a foreign correspondent in Venezuela and Colombia.