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Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz wants the judge removed from his case

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Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz wants the judge removed from his case after she lashed out at his defense lawyers in court last week.

Attorney Melisa McNeill abruptly announced Wednesday that the defense team planned to rest, prompting Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to rebuke her for not letting the court know in advance so the state could have witnesses ready for their rebuttal case. 

In the motion filed Saturday morning, McNeil blasted Scherer for criticizing her professionalism, then telling jurors it was the defense’s fault that the trial would go dark for two weeks to give prosecutors time to prepare.

“The defense had absolutely no legal obligation to advise the State or Court in advance of its intention to rest,” McNeil wrote.

JUDGE LASHES OUT AT DEFENSE LAWYERS AFTER THEY RESTED THEIR CASE

A photo combination showing Broward County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer chastising the defense team on Sept. 14, 2022, and Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz in court for his penalty trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

A photo combination showing Broward County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Scherer chastising the defense team on Sept. 14, 2022, and Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz in court for his penalty trial in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
(Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

The heated exchange, she said, revealed that the court’s “animosity” toward her is “long-held and has infected this entire trial.”  McNeil cited numerous prior examples where, she alleges, the judge inappropriately chastised the defense lawyers. 

In an affidavit, Cruz wrote that the judge’s admonishments “cause me to reasonably fear that the Court is biased against my attorneys and me and I will not receive a fair and impartial trial.”

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The defense asked for a mistrial and for the judge to recuse herself from the case. 

 In a reply to the motion, Assistant State Attorney Carolyn McCann argued that even if the judge made “critical or hostile” comments, these are not grounds for a mistrial.

Nikolas Cruz's lead defense lawyer Melisa McNeill in Broward County Circuit Court Sept. 14, 2022 before Judge Elizabeth Scherer reprimanded her.

Nikolas Cruz’s lead defense lawyer Melisa McNeill in Broward County Circuit Court Sept. 14, 2022 before Judge Elizabeth Scherer reprimanded her.
(Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP, Pool)

On Wednesday, Scherer scolded McNeill after learning that the defense did not plan to call any more witnesses.

“We’re not playing chess,” she seethed. “This is the most uncalled-for, unprofessional way to try a case. You all knew about this and even if you didn’t make your decision until this morning, to have 22 people, plus all the staff and every attorney march into court, be waiting as it’s some kind of game – now I have to send them home.” 

Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, during the shooting that took place there in February.

Students are evacuated by police from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, during the shooting that took place there in February.
(AP/South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

When McNeill tried to respond, Scherer directed her ire at her. “You have been insulting me the entire trial, so blatantly,” the judge told McNeill. “Taking your headphones off. Arguing with me. Storming out. Coming late intentionally if you don’t like my rulings, so, quite frankly, this has been long overdue.”  

The judge has not ruled on the mistrial motion yet. 

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It is two months into Cruz’s penalty trial for killing 17 people when he opened fired at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Feb. 14, 2018, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

He already pleaded guilty, and the trial will only determine whether he is sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole.  



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Nord Stream: Sweden finds new leak in Russian gas pipeline

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The EU says the leaks are caused by sabotage and promises the “strongest possible response”.



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Poland tightened abortion laws. It didn't count on where help would come from next

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It’s early evening in an affluent neighborhood in the Dutch city of Haarlem and bed and breakfast owners Arnoud and Marika are waiting for their next guest to arrive. They’ve prepared their single room for her, a brightly colored space with massive windows overlooking a leafy drive.



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Austria to begin checks at border crossings with Slovakia to stop migrants

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Austria announced Wednesday that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic, in a move that’s aimed at keeping migrants from entering.

The measure becomes effective at midnight Wednesday, the Austrian government said.

The Austrian interior ministry said the border controls are a response to the Czech Republic’s announcement, a day earlier, of controls on its border with Slovakia starting Thursday, and aim to ensure that human traffickers do not use Austria as an alternative.

“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner told public broadcaster ORF.

Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone where people can normally cross borders without getting checked. However, temporary border controls have repeatedly been reinstated in the past, whether to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the early days of the pandemic or to stop migrants from entering illegally.

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters later on Wednesday that he would meet Hungarian President Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic next week to discuss the issue of migration.

“The states are not doing this for their own sake, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to reduce the pressure from the borders,” Nehammer said in Vienna.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, above, addresses the media during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Vienna, Austria, on July 28, 2022. Austria announced that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia in a move aimed at keeping migrants from entering.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, above, addresses the media during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Vienna, Austria, on July 28, 2022. Austria announced that it will start checks at its border crossings with Slovakia in a move aimed at keeping migrants from entering.
(AP Photo/Theresa Wey, File)

Austria introduced controls along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, when more than 1 million migrants from war-torn countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan entered the European Union. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended those controls, which remain in place.

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Back then, only about 8,500 migrants were detained in the Czech Republic, while this year so far 12,000 migrants have been detained, the Czech interior ministry said, adding that most of them were Syrians. A total of 125 human smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase compared with the previous years.

Most migrants don’t want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia, but travel through them to reach wealthier places like Germany, Sweden or Austria.

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The Austrian border controls will initially be enforced at 11 crossing to Slovakia for 10 days.



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