FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The fallout continues from the Parkland sentencing trial. Broward’s public defender has called into question the judge’s actions, and that’s not all.
Since the trial, hundreds of threats have been sent to him and his public defenders after representing the Parkland shooter.
Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes sits at his desk, an email on one of his computer screens is opened with a picture attached of a decomposed, naked body.
“My attorneys have had to endure several threats to their person, to their families,” said Broward County Public Defender Gordon Weekes.
“You should [expletive] rot for all eternity,” said a man in a voicemail.
“You deserve to die,” said another man in a recording. “You are disgusting. Shame on you. Be careful, eh. Everybody knows who you are.”
One person writes in an email, “Team Cruz may all the attorneys rot in hell … You are the scum of the earth!”
Vicious voicemails and emails, some of them coming all the way from Oregon, wishing painful deaths, and the vitriol goes on.
Weekes claimed Judge Elizabeth Sherer’s lack of control on sentencing day led to this.
“How can you sit there listening to what he did and say that this is not the worst of the worst?” said Max Schachter, father of victim Alex Schachter, during the victim impact statements at the end of the sentencing trail, addressing the defense.
The parents of the victims are angry with the defense after attorney Tamara Curtis was caught early on in the trial holding up her middle finger during a camera check, causing the confessed killer to laugh. Court was not in session.
Another threat emailed to Curtis reads: “It is with great authority, heart, and mind from me & others to encourage your self inflicted death. Please put a gun to your head & release the trigger.”
Months later, during sentencing, the families wanted to address it.
“The middle finger lady, apologizing with a middle finger. You need to learn how to do a middle finger,” said Manuel Oliver, the father of victim Joaquin Oliver, during the impact statements, before raising his own middle finger, “so you don’t need to apologize to anyone.”
When lead defense attorney Melisa McNeill asked the judge to control the attacks, she said, “I did my job, and every member of this time did their job, judge, and we should not personally be attacked for that.”
The court’s decorum then went from bad to worse when Weekes backed her up.
“Please go sit down. You’re inappropriate and out of line,” Scherer said.
“Judge, I asked you to go sidebar on this matter, judge,” said Weekes during the trial.
“Sidebar or not, you don’t have one of your assistant public defenders say something about my children,” she interjected.
“It’s painful to watch that,” said Weekes, “but it’s equally painful to recognize that all of that could’ve been avoided and those family could have had some closure if the court would have maintained some control of that courtroom.”
Sherer then was seen hugging the prosecution team.
“The judge should be neutral, unbiased,” said Weekes.
Now, Weekes has filed more than 130 motions to disqualify Judge Scherer on any future cases that involve the public defender’s office.
This comes as Weekes admits Curtis’ gesture was inappropriate and a terrible distraction from what really mattered: the pain of the victims’ families.
“We will address our mistakes and our missteps and our failures,” said Weekes, “but we also need to address the greater failures of this court.”
If Sherer denies these motions to disqualify, the public defender’s office could appeal that, which could cause a lag in a backlog of cases.
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