Judge sentencing Nikolas Cruz criticizes defense and prosecution for turning courtroom into ‘playground’

The judge who heard the sentencing of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz criticized the defense and prosecution for their conduct, saying they had turned his courthouse into an “amusement park.”

In sharp remarks Thursday morning, Judge Elizabeth Scherer laid down rules of court conduct for lawyers on both sides, rejecting the defense’s request for a mistrial in the sentencing phase of the trial.

The motion to quash was filed against her after she allowed Cruz’s drawings, including swastikas, to be introduced as evidence in the case.

Prior to the formal filing of the motion, the defense urged the judge to reconsider his decision, arguing that they were forced to present inflammatory and damaging evidence against their client.

Calling Cruz an equal-opportunity killer who shot his victims regardless of race or religion, defense attorneys told the court, outside the presence of the jury, that the Nazi symbol evokes strong anger and revulsion.

They argued that allowing the jury to see his drawings would undermine the case against him because there is no evidence that his killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland was motivated by bigotry. The dead and 17 injured included whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, Christians and Jews, the defense said.

Before Judge Scherer denied the request for a new trial, members of the defense and prosecution teams began arguing, prompting her to instruct them not to speak to each other.

“This whole situation here has become unprofessional to say the least,” she said. “When I say that the court has started again, all the lawyers should be in their seats and pay attention.

“The fact that I have to repeatedly ask if a certain party is ready and no one listens to me because you are talking to each other is rude. It is rude and unacceptable. Everyone must be in their place, everyone must be silent.”

She said attorneys could text each other through their computers and exchange notes, but the constant movement between them stalled the process.

“This has to stop. This is a courtroom, it should function like a courtroom. It became a kind of playground,” she said.

“There should be no shouting, this has to be as quiet as a library,” the judge said, instructing everyone to “stop talking”.

“I don’t need any more rude or inconsiderate behavior. It got pretty out of control. Please do not move in this courtroom without asking permission.”

Last October, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 Valentine’s Day killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Jurors will now decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors spent three weeks detailing how Cruz killed 17 students and staff and wounded 17 more, with jurors hearing from grieving family members and visiting the school site.

Now, Cruz’s defense is making its case, seeking to show that his actions that day were a culmination of his life up to that point — from his biological mother’s exposure to drugs and alcohol in the womb, to behavioral and psychological problems. age and death of his adoptive parents.

The judge who heard the sentencing of Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz criticized the defense and prosecution for their conduct, saying they had turned his courthouse into an “amusement park.”

In sharp remarks Thursday morning, Judge Elizabeth Scherer laid down the rules of court conduct for lawyers on both sides, rejecting a defense request to mistrial the sentencing phase of the trial.

The motion to quash was filed against her after she allowed Cruz’s drawings, including swastikas, to be introduced as evidence in the case.

Prior to the formal filing of the motion, the defense urged the judge to reconsider his decision, arguing that they were forced to present inflammatory and damaging evidence against their client.

Calling Cruz an equal-opportunity killer who shot his victims regardless of race or religion, defense attorneys told the court, outside the presence of the jury, that the Nazi symbol evokes strong anger and revulsion.

They argued that allowing the jury to see his drawings would undermine the case against him because there is no evidence that his killing of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland was motivated by bigotry. The dead and 17 injured included whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians, Christians and Jews, the defense said.

Before Judge Scherer denied the request for a new trial, members of the defense and prosecution teams began arguing, prompting her to instruct them not to speak to each other.

“This whole situation here has become unprofessional to say the least,” she said. “When I say that the court has started again, all the lawyers should be in their seats and pay attention.

“The fact that I have to ask again and again if a certain party is ready and no one listens to me because you are talking to each other is rude. It is rude and unacceptable. Everyone must be in their place, everyone must be silent.”

She said attorneys could text each other through their computers and exchange notes, but the constant movement between them stalled the process.

“This has to stop. This is a courtroom, it should function like a courtroom. It became a kind of playground,” she said.

“There should be no shouting, this has to be as quiet as a library,” the judge said, instructing everyone to “stop talking”.

“I don’t need any more rude or inconsiderate behavior. It got pretty out of control. Please do not move in this courtroom without asking permission.”

Last October, Cruz pleaded guilty to 17 counts of murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 Valentine’s Day killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Jurors will now decide whether to sentence him to death or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors spent three weeks detailing how Cruz killed 17 students and staff and wounded 17 more, with jurors hearing from grieving family members and visiting the school site.

Now, Cruz’s defense is making its case, seeking to show that his actions that day were a culmination of his life up to that point — from his birth mother’s exposure to drugs and alcohol in the womb, to behavioral and mental issues. young age and the death of his adoptive parents.

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