Select Page
Tensions bubbling over between the Nikolas Cruz defense team and Broward Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer have again made national news, with the victims’ families calling out Cruz’ public defenders, and the court berating counsel before imposing sentence and proceeding to hug the prosecutors.

The Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers has called for the judge’s removal. 

Read the FACDL demand here. 

Asked for comment, Professor H. Scott Fingerhut – an FACDL member and past president of FACDL’s Miami Chapter — told the Daily Business Review that “our criminal justice system, like our country, is about who we are and what we want, a mere reflection of ourselves, and among the more important lessons today’s America — and the world — reminds us, teaches us, is that living under what we often-too-casually refer to as the rule of law is, like oxygen, basic to our survival. 

“Just as defenders fulfill their constitutional role by taking on representation of the unsavory and unpopular — indeed, especially so — if our courts are indeed to be our great levelers, judges must uphold their end of the bargain,” Professor Fingerhut said. 

“In this very real sense, FACDL’s request of Chief Judge Tuter is more than right, it’s righteous. 

“For how a society treats its outcasts, the least among it, says perhaps the most about the type of society it is and yearns to become. 

“So whether in the end this judge is to continue in her current assignment — reeducated, rehabilitated, and monitored, most likely — or indeed removed from public defender cases, the criminal division, or the bench entire, as a community we must come together to confront all the ugliness this case wrought and find better ways to move forward, together.  Only this will keep us — and our judges – independent, wise, merciful, and free.” 

Read the Daily Business Review article here. 

In October 2021, Cruz pleaded guilty to murdering 17 students and staff and injuring 17 others on February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.  The death penalty phase of Cruz’ trial began on July 18, 2022.  The jury returned its non-unanimous findings on October 13, 2022.  The court then imposed the mandatory life-without-parole sentence – 34 consecutive life terms in all — on November 2, 2022. 

Professor Fingerhut is Assistant Director of the Trial Advocacy Program at FIU Law.  He teaches Trial Advocacy, Pretrial Practice, and Criminal Procedure.  He is dually appointed as a Fellow in The Honors College at FIU, where serves as pre-law faculty advisor and teaches the upper-division seminar Observing Ourselves.  Rated AV Preeminent, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer rating, Professor Fingerhut practices criminal defense and represents applicants before the Board of Bar Examiners and lawyers facing Florida Bar discipline.  He is consistently ranked among Florida’s leading criminal defense attorneys, including Best Lawyers in America, and is a three-time FIU Law Professor of the Year.   

Reach him at 305-348-8095 and   

To find out more about Trial Advocacy at FIU Law, visit 

 #  #  #  #