MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Broward Circuit judge severely criticized the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper Wednesday for publishing sensitive
information on accused mass shooter Nikolas Cruz.
During a hearing on whether the newspaper and two of its reporters should be held in contempt of court, Judge Elizabeth Scherer called the paper’s reporting “shameful.”
Sun Sentinel lawyer Dana McElroy argued that the paper didn’t break the law and that the community needs the information to correct the problems and minimize the risk of a similar tragedy happening again.
The Broward County school board had asked the judge to hold the paper in contempt over an article detailing Cruz’s school records in the years before prosecutors say he murdered 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School February 14th.
Initially, the court allowed a highly edited version of Cruz’s school records to be released. But through a Facebook tip the paper figured out to copy and paste the ‘unedited’ version.
The report found the district failed to offer Cruz counseling and other special services after he was asked to leave Stoneman Douglas in his junior year.
The judge was stern when she lashed out at the paper.
“If you have in fact created some type of jeopardy to the fair trial of Mr. Cruz then that’s something that the Sun Sentinel will have to live with whether that matters to you I don’t know. As far as the motion to invoke contempt proceedings, I’m going to take the matter under advisement,” said Scherer.
Thirty news organizations supported the Sentinel including CBS News asking the judge not to punish the paper
The judge said she would issue a ruling on the contempt issue later.
Cruz faces the death penalty if convicted. He has offered to plead guilty to all charges and spend life in prison.