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Parkland Shooting Judge Announces Resignation

Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer was first appointed by Florida Governor Rick Scott in 2012

The Florida circuit court judge who presided over the trial of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz is leaving her office.

Judge Elizabeth Scherer announced that she will step down on June 30.

In her resignation letter to Governor Ron DeSantis, Scherer said it had been “a privilege to serve the people of the State of Florida as a member of the judiciary for over 10 years.” Court TV, which was the first outlet to report the news, released the letter which was dated May 10.

Scherer, 46, became publicly known for her role in Cruz’s trial, which ended on Nov. 2, 2022 when he was sentenced to 34 consecutive counts of life in prison for his 2018 attack on students and staff at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. She was randomly assigned the case by the Broward County’s computerized system.

She was frequently criticized by Cruz’s legal team as well as commended by the families of the victims. In September 2022, his defense team filed a motion to have Scherer removed from the case after an argument in the courtroom wherein the judge questioned the lead attorney Melisa McNeill’s professionalism.

In April, Scherer was removed from any post-conviction proceedings involving Rady Tundidor, who received the death penalty for murdering his landlord in 2019. Tundidor is appealing his case. The Justices who removed Scherer cited her decision to hug with Parkland victims’ families and members of the prosecution team after the verdict. The justices noted judges are required to remain neutral during both trial and sentencing. 

Scherer also face scrutiny for some of her decisions during jury selection, which lasted three months. 

“During her service, Judge Scherer handled one of the most challenging cases in Broward County’s history,” said 17th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tutor in a statement confirming Scherer’s resignation. “She did so in a professional and dignified manner. On behalf of the 17th Circuit, we wish Judge Scherer good health and prosperity in her future endeavors.”

CourtTV reports Scherer has previously said that she would not remain on the bench indefinitely and that she “always intended to pursue other career opportunities.”

The Parkland case was the first death penalty case Scherer had ever presided over. 

Prior to being appointed by then-Governor Rick Scott in 2012, Scherer worked as a prosecutor under former state attorney general Michael J. Satz — the lead prosecution in the Parkland case. 

Her father, William R. Scherer, co-founded the Conrad & Scherer law firm and was one of George W. Bush’s lawyers during the presidential election recount in 2000,” reports The New York Times. “Mr. Scherer was also a member of the circuit judicial nominating commission until his daughter decided to seek an appointment. Judge Scherer is a graduate of Florida State University and the University of Miami School of Law.”

Scherer has not said what she intends to do once she is no longer a judge.

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