Public can see who is visiting confessed Parkland school shooter in jail, judge says

Posted at 5:19 PM, Apr 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-12 17:19:37-04

The judge overseeing the criminal trial of confessed Parkland mass killer Nikolas Cruz ruled Friday the public has a right to see who is visiting him in jail.

Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer last week heard a defense motion seeking to block the sheriff’s office from releasing visitor names. They were specifically concerned about mental health experts who may see Cruz in jail, but who would not ultimately be called in a trial or death penalty hearing.

The defense argued anyone could search their names and find out what specialties they may have, thus tipping off the state and the public to possible defense strategies.

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But, in her three-page order, Scherer dismissed that, writing “even if this is true, this Court does not believe that this affects Defendant’s right to a fair trial.

"The defense may have a myriad of experts from different specialty backgrounds visit defendant in jail … some of whom the defense may likely use as witnesses at trial and some whom it may likely not," Scherer wrote. "Mere potential speculation about these visitors will not compromise Defendant’s right to a fair trial.”

Nor, she said, would it pierce the attorney-client or work product privileges, which allow the defense to withhold certain materials and information from the public and the state.

While the names will be public, the judge ruled, “the actual communications that occur between these experts and Defendant within the jail are not subject to release as public records.”

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