Judge Elizabeth Scherer gave Attorney Dana McElroy some harsh feedback during a hearing Wednesday afternoon for Nikolas Cruz, the teen accused of killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Judge Scherer blasted Dana McElroy, an attorney for the Sun-Sentinel, for advising the newspaper to use a “cut-and-paste tactic to reveal redacted information in Cruz’s education records,” according to News 3 Las Vegas.
“If I have to specifically write word for word what you are & are not permitted to print & I have to take the papers myself & redact them with a Sharpie..to make sure you all cant read whats not supposed to be reported, then I’ll do that,” Judge Scherer says in the video. She also called the paper’s reporting “shameful.”
Judge Scherer chastised McElroy for leaving her with the impression in previous hearings that the Sun Sentinel “agreed not to publish any information that was exempt from disclosure under Florida’s public records laws,” Herald Mail Media reports.
McElroy claimed that the Sun Sentinel had never made any promises regarding Cruz’s education records, and argued that the court order barring the release of information was directed at government agencies, and not the media. McElroy also argued that the news organization was well within its legal right to publish it.
On August 3, the school Broward County School District released a report on Cruz’s education record, but was supposed to black out nearly two-thirds of the report, because it disclosed information that Cruz was entitled to keep private. However, the method used to post the report on the district’s website made it possible for people to still read the blacked-out portions of the report if they copy and pasted the content into another file, the Herald Mail Media reports.
The reporters disclosed the private contents, which included many important facts relevant to the trial. Some of those facts included school officials not properly advising Cruz on his legal options when he was expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and how the district didn’t follow through on Cruz’s request return to the therapeutic environment of Cross Creek School for special education students.
After the content of the report was made public, the school board accused the Sun Sentinel’s reporters of violating a court order to keep the information private. The Sun Sentinel argued that the court order was “directed at the school district, which failed to comply when it made the full contents of the report available to the public.”
The coalition of media organizations cited legal precedent holding that a news organization is entitled to publish information it has obtained legally, according to the Herald Mail Media.
Just last week, prosecutors released 12 hours worth of video of Cruz’s interrogation, during which he said voices in his head told him to “burn, kill, destroy.”