TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Attorneys for accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz have gone to the Florida Supreme Court in a bid to prevent disclosure of the names of mental-health experts who visit him in jail as part of his defense.
They’ve filed a notice that is a first step in asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue. While the notice does not provide detailed arguments, Cruz’s attorneys will challenge an August ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal.
Cruz is charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
His attorneys have sought a protective order to prevent the disclosure of information on jail-visitation logs that would detail the names of mental-health experts who meet with him. In part, Cruz’s attorneys have argued that the experts’ names were covered by attorney-client privilege and that disclosure of the names could damage his right to a fair trial, according to the ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal.
The state and the Sun Sentinel newspaper opposed the request by Cruz’s attorneys, and a Broward County circuit judge denied the protective order.
The appeals court upheld the circuit-court decision. “In sum, we conclude that petitioner (Cruz) failed to demonstrate that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in denying his motion for protective order,” said the seven-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Martha Warner and joined by judges Robert Gross and Melanie May. “The Constitution and the public records act do not authorize redacting the names of the experts visiting petitioner in jail. If public policy demands that these be kept confidential, it is for the Legislature to provide an exemption by statute.”
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