Cameras in the courtroom capture a bad judge

It’s been a struggle around here to get the court system to get with the times and allow cameras in the courtroom.

Among other things, it might ruin the dignity of the proceedings, opponents say.

But in Florida, a camera also helped get a bad judge removed from the bench.

South Florida Judge Merrilee Ehrlich retires at 5 p.m. today, after failing to muster up an ounce of human dignity while berating a defendant who was charged with getting into an argument with her daughter.

The judge didn’t want to hear anything about the woman’s asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

A few days later, the woman died in her sleep, the Florida Sun Sentinel.

Judge Ehrlich moved up her retirement by a few months after widespread criticism for her behavior. In her announcement today, she mentioned nothing about the incident.

  • AmiSchwab


    • boB from WA

      There was no justice here (both in the literal and the figurative sense). And I might add no compassion either.

  • A-man

    Were the judge and the defendant in different locations? Was this some kind of video conferencing system they had set up? The interactions between all involved seemed so strange and separated.

    • Yeah, I think there’s a room at the jail for arraignments and they used teleconference to the courtroom.

      • Guest

        This shows there is something lost when televised. The tone of a witness, the body language. Much like a mere script, a screen does not convey the full info standing in front of a person does.

  • Rob

    Look for a reference to this occurrence in the next Carl Hiassen novel…

  • Syd676

    This judge is absolutely revolting. And it’s infuriating that after treating that poor woman with less compassion and dignity than one would treat a reptile, her punishment is retiring earlier than she initially contemplated?!?! There’s a broken cog in this system.

    • What we will never find out is how many cases this Judge has miss handled and damaged during her career? Behavior like that is not something that flicks on with a switch.

      I once had a college professor that started to act like this but it happen slowly over the course of a semester and was a side effect of a medication he was taking.

  • Guest

    This is what a closed mind (I know I am right, stop the debate) looks like.

  • Guest

    There is a quote about women achieving equality when mediocre women are routinely hired.

    • Laurie K.

      And your point is?

  • Laurie K.

    I have witnessed Minnesota judges who have treated defendants similar to this judge’s treatment. It is hard to get a jury to understand the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” when judges routinely treat charged people as convicted criminals.

  • My father was involved for some time with the organization called “WATCH” ( He would regularly sit in on court proceedings carrying his clipboard and everyone in the courtroom, especially the judge, knew he was there.

    He mentioned that judges seemed to be on their best behavior when WATCH was there with his clipboard and were sometimes not so well behaved if he was there without being so obvious.

    /WATCH is always looking for volunteers, too.

  • Jay Sieling

    From Merchant of Venice:

    The quality of mercy is not strained.

    It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

    Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:

    It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

    ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes

    The thronèd monarch better than his crown.

    His scepter shows the force of temporal power,

    The attribute to awe and majesty

    Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings,

    But mercy is above this sceptered sway.

    It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.

    It is an attribute to God himself.

    And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
    When mercy seasons justice.