Judge Removed From Bench After Footage Shows Her Berating Wheelchair-Bound Woman Who Later Died
Judge Merrilee Ehrlich was seen in a video yelling at Sandra Faye Twiggs during her April 15 court appearance.
A Florida judge thought by some to be one of the meanest in America has been removed from court after berating a woman in a wheelchair who later died.
Judge Merrilee Ehrlich was seen in a video yelling at Sandra Faye Twiggs during her April 15 court appearance. Twiggs, 49, was in court on a battery charge after scratching her daughter during a dispute over a fan at her home in Lauderhill.
"Excuse me! Don't say anything beyond what I am asking you!" Ehrlich can be seen yelling at Twiggs.
Twiggs suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and diabetes and was in a wheelchair during her appearance.
At one point, Twiggs began coughing.
Though Ehrlich asked that someone give Twiggs water, she also said: “Ma'am, I am not here to talk to you about your breathing treatments!"
Twiggs’ attorney said he was outraged at his client’s treatment, telling Inside Edition: “If somebody had done this to my mother, I don’t even know how I could contain myself. And this is somebody’s mother. It is unacceptable.”
Twiggs’ sister bailed her out of jail on the evening of Monday, April 16. She told CNN she found her sister dead in bed two days later.
"I love my sister and I miss my sister dearly," Anna Twiggs told CNN. "The judge was so nasty to my sister. She didn't allow my sister a breathing treatment when she needed one."
Chief Judge Jack Tuter, who oversees the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Fort Lauderdale, said in a statement to CNN that he did not support Ehrlich's behavior.
"I am saddened and disappointed in the way Judge Ehrlich behaved on the video," Tuter said. "Her behavior cannot be condoned. In light of recent events, we have decided Judge Ehrlich will not return to the courthouse as her retirement is effective June 30. I will be working to find a substitute to cover Judge Ehrlich's division."
Tuter said he was going to personally reach out to Twiggs' family to "extend an apology on behalf of the 17th Circuit for the way their family member was treated by Judge Ehrlich."
He added: "This is in no way a reflection of the many hard working judges in the 17th Circuit. I will be speaking with all our judges this week to reemphasize the public trust invested in the work we do. All our citizens, no matter what might bring them to the courthouse, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect."
Ehrlich did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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