A Florida judge won’t be coming back to the bench after she was recorded chewing out a wheelchair-bound defendant, and dismissing the woman’s concerns about a breathing problem.
Local administrators have disowned Broward County Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich.
“In light of recent events we have decided Judge Ehrlich will be told not to return to the courthouse as her retirement is effective June 30,” Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter told The Sun-Sentinel on Saturday. “I will be working this weekend to find a substitute to cover Judge Ehrlich’s division.”
Ehrlich was in charge of family court cases, but appeared in court last Sunday as part of a rotation to set preliminary bail for defendants. One of those suspects: the wheelchair-bound Sandra Twiggs, 59, who was booked April 14 for allegedly striking her daughter in a domestic violence incident.
As seen on video, Ehrlich quickly became testy every time Twiggs gave an answer lengthier than yes or no.
“Does you daughter live with your, ma’am?” Ehrlich asked the defendant over a live feed between the jail and the court.
“Yes, ma’am” Twiggs said. “But she also–”
“Excuse me, don’t say anything beyond what I am asking you,” Ehrlich said, cutting her off, and shushing her.
It goes on like this, with Ehrlich even snapping at the defense lawyer.
“First of all, attorneys don’t interrupt the court. Listen to what the court says because it may answer your questions,” she said.
At one point, Twiggs started coughing.
“Ma’am, do you need water?” Ehrlich asked. “Just nod your head.”
“Yes,” Twiggs said, “and my breathing treatment.”
“Ma’am, I am not here to talk to you about your breathing treatment,” she said, and later cut off the defendant again. “Oh, Lord.”
She told the defense lawyer to tell Twiggs to be quiet.
“I’m not going to spend all day with her interrupting me,” Ehrlich said.
Twiggs’ family said she passed away in her sleep at home on Wednesday.
“She tried to tell us how they treated her, but she had anxiety, and every time she tried to talk about it, she couldn’t breathe,” goddaughter Carolyn Porter told the Sentinel. She said that the alleged victim in the domestic violence incident, Twiggs’ daughter, is “devastated,” adding that “She doesn’t want to talk to anyone. It’s eating her up inside.”
Law&Crime could not reach Ehrlich for comment.
[Screengrab via Broward County]