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Meet the Broward Judge at the Helm of the Parkland School Shooting Case

[caption id="attachment_13812" align="aligncenter" width="621"] Judge Elizabeth Scherer. Photo: Candace West[/caption] Reader searches spiked over the weekend for Elizabeth Scherer, the Broward Circuit judge overseeing the case of a Florida teenager accused of committing one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history. Scherer is presiding over the case of Nikolas Cruz, who faces 17 counts of premeditated murder for the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The case could become a matter of life or death for Cruz if prosecutors opt to pursue the death penalty. It has already sparked a political debate about gun control, premises liability and the death penalty. “This is not just a criminal case," said Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein, whose office represents Cruz. "This is a lightning rod for issues affecting everybody in America. And you’re going to see it unfold.” Investigators and eyewitnesses said Cruz returned to the school in Northwest Broward County Feb. 14 in an Uber. They say he then sounded a fire alarm and used smoke grenades to lure students and staff into hallways before opening fire with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Cruz appeared before Scherer Monday for a brief hearing in a heavily guarded courtroom covered by reporters from across the country. Scherer was appointment by Gov. Rick Scott in 2012 at the age of 36. She replaced retired Broward Circuit Judge David Krathen, who left office after nine years to return to private practice. She later ran unopposed in 2014 to win a six-year term that ends Jan. 4, 2021. The judge is a former prosecutor, who was an assistant state attorney in Broward for about 11 years, beginning in 2001. “Liz is committed to the principle that the judiciary must say what the law is, and not what it should be,” Scott said at her appointment. “She has an excellent record as a prosecutor and will prove to be a hard working, fair and intelligent judge.” Scherer is the daughter of noted Fort Lauderdale litigator William Scherer, who recovered $170 million for victims of disbarred lawyer Scott Rothstein’s $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, and was on the forefront of George W. Bush’s legal team for the election ballot challenge in 2000. Scherer told the Daily Business Review in an earlier interview that she and her father share multiple traits, including the way they think. “I think we have a lot of the same ways of putting the pieces of a puzzle together, so to speak, in a way that’s sort of hard to explain,” she said. “When it clicks, it clicks.”