Tempers Flare Between Judge and Parkland Shooter Defense Lawyer — Mistrial Requested

The defense team for school shooter Nikolas Cruz rested their case on Sept. 14 without notifying the court, leading Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to chastise the attorneys for wasting everyone’s time.

Despite prior assurances from the defense team that they would call 80 witnesses, they suddenly informed the court that they would be resting their case after calling only 25 witnesses.

When the prosecution said they were not prepared to deliver their rebuttal, Scherer grew incensed at the defense team.

“To have 22 people march into court and be waiting as if it is some kind of game,” Scherer began. “I have never experienced such a level of unprofessionalism in my career.”

When defense attorney Melisa McNeill attempted to interject, Scherer laid into her.

“You’ve been insulting me the entire trial,” Scherer stated. “Blatantly taking your headphones off, arguing with me, storming out, coming late intentionally if you don’t like my rulings.”

“So, quite frankly, this has been long overdue,” she continued. “So please be seated.”

McNeill may have taken a seat, but she was not done with the issue. On Saturday, she filed a motion to remove Scherer as the judge on the case, citing “animosity” between the two that is “long-held and has infected this entire trial.”

The motion also included a request for the judge to declare a mistrial. Cruz included an affidavit in the motion stating his fear “that the Court is biased against my attorneys and me and I will not receive a fair and impartial trial.”

Cruz pleaded guilty in 2021 to murdering 17 people at his former high school in Parkland, Florida. The current jury trial is to decide whether Cruz will be sentenced to life in prison or death.