On Friday, June 2, 2023, the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission recommended the public reprimand of Honorable Elizabeth A. Scherer, a Circuit Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit in Florida, for her misconduct involving acting in an intemperate manner during a proceeding and displaying an appearance of bias towards the prosecution.

The case is entitled “In the Matter of Elizabeth A. Scherer”

The charges cited Florida Code of Judicial Conduct 1, 2A, 3B(2), 3B(3), 3B(4), 3B(5), and 3B(9). 

In the notice of formal charges, it was alleged that the respondent, while presiding over a proceeding – during the penalty phase, and at the sentencing – displayed conduct that was intemperate and gave the appearance of
partiality to the prosecution. When the defense counsel raised arguments attempting to curtail vitriolic comments directed at them during sentencing by family members of the victims, the respondent acknowledged that some comments were inappropriate but failed to take action to stop the comments or enforce the prosecution’s obligations under Florida Statutes which require that the prosecution advise victims that statements “shall relate to the facts of the case and the extent of any harm and any matter relevant to an appropriate disposition and sentence.”

The notice of formal charges states:

“During the argument referenced in paragraph 2, a member of the defense team stated, Judge, I can assure you that if they were talking about your children, you would definitely notice.” You responded by accusing him of trying to threaten your children. You told him he violated “about every rule of professional responsibility” and ordered that he leave the defense table and sit in the back of the courtroom effectively denying him the ability to represent his client. You then accused the elected Public Defender of instructing that attorney to “say something about (her) children.” You denied the elected Public Defender’s request for a brief recess to consult with members of the defense team 4 At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, you stepped. down from the bench in your judicial robe and embraced members of the prosecution team. You also embraced victims and family members of the victims.”

Following the notice of charges, the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission and the respondent filed a stipulation wherein the latter admitted that she violated the abovementioned Code of Judicial Conduct.

The stipulation states:

“Judge Scherer does not contest the Findings and Recommendations. She accepts and agrees to a public reprimand. Judge Scherer waives a final hearing before the Hearing Panel of the Commission if the Findings and Recommendations are accepted by the Court. The Investigative Panel and Judge Scherer acknowledge and understand that this Stipulation and attached Findings and Recommendations of Discipline are subject to the review and approval of this Court. The parties acknowledge and understand that this Stipulation and Findings and Recommendations of Discipline may be rejected by the Court, and in that event, this matter may be returned to the Hearing Panel for a final hearing. Should that occur, the parties agree that none of the statements in the Stipulation (or the attached Findings and Recommendations of Discipline) are admissible in the final hearing. The parties further agree that negotiations related to this Stipulation are not admissible in the final hearing.”

Following the stipulation filed by the Investigative Panel of the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission and the respondent wherein the latter admitted her violation of the Code of Conduct, the commission found and recommended the public reprimand of the respondent.

The Disposition states:

“This Court reviews the findings of the Commission to determine “whether the alleged violations are supported by clear and convincing evidence and reviews the recommended discipline to determine whether it should be approved.” In re Woodward, 919 So. 2d 389, 390 (Fla. 2006). Where a judge stipulates to the JQC’s findings of fact, no additional proof is necessary to support the JQC’s factual findings.” ld. at 390-91. Considering the facts and circumstances, the mitigating and aggravating factors, and prior precedent, the Commission finds and recommends that the interests of justice will be well-served by a public reprimand of Judge Elizabeth A Scherer.”

Judge Scherer attended the University of Miami.

Judge Scherer is a judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Florida, located at 201 SE 6th Street, Ft Lauderdale, Fl. 33301. Her info can be found on ballotpedia.org.

A copy of the original filing can be found here.