Parkland School Gunman Seeks to Disqualify Judge
Just two months before jury selection is set to begin in his death penalty trial, the confessed killer of 17 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is asking the judge to disqualify herself from his case.
The motion, filed Monday afternoon by his public defenders, claims the killer fears Judge Elizabeth Scherer cannot be impartial because, it claims, she communicated with a prosecutor outside of the presence of the defense.
“This appearance of impropriety requires disqualification of Judge Scherer,” the motion states.
The so-called “ex parte” communication came to light last Tuesday when, the defense says, Chief Judge Jack Tuter told an assistant public defender Scherer had spoken to prosecutor Jeff Marcus about a pending motion to provide real-time trial transcripts to the defense on each day of the trial.
Assistant public defender Diane Cuddihy said Tuter told her he “was advised by Judge Scherer that Jeff Marcus told her” about a real-time court reporter who could produce the desired transcripts.
When Cuddihy asked Tuter to clarify that Scherer had spoken directly to Marcus, “Tuter responded yes, but that it was a ‘private conversation’ and he did not want to bring Judge Scherer ‘into this,'” the motion claims.
It says Scherer has not notified the defense of the communication, as required by the Code of Judicial Conduct, so “the defendant does not know the extent or duration of the ex parte communication.”
That fact, combined with Scherer’s prior employment by the state attorney’s office – where she was personally mentored by State Attorney Michael Satz – “has created a reasonable fear defendant that Judge Scherer will not remain impartial and that the defendant will not receive a fair trial in front of this judge.”
The defense is asking the case be randomly assigned to anther judge.