One of the assistant public defenders for the Parkland school shooter is now the subject of a probe herself. Per NBC Miami, the Florida Bar confirmed Thursday that Tamara Curtis is being investigated, though it's remaining tight-lipped on what the investigation entails. Local 10 reports that Curtis wasn't in the courtroom on Wednesday when her client, Nikolas Cruz, was officially sentenced to 34 terms of life without parole in prison after relatives of the 17 people he killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School made their victim-impact statements. The Law & Crime blog doesn't have any further info on the probe, but it notes that the Florida Bar's professional conduct rules feature a section on "courtroom decorum" during a trial, including avoiding "undignified or discourteous conduct that is degrading to the court or the proceedings."
That conduct can run the gamut of "gestures, facial expressions, audible comments, or the like, as manifestations of approval or disapproval," the guidelines state. Local 10 notes that a livestream carried by Law & Crime back in July showed an incident during a pretrial hearing in which Curtis was seen waving to a media camera in the courtroom, then scratching or rubbing her cheek with her extended middle finger, as an apparent gesture to the camera. Cruz spotted her doing so and laughed, as did Curtis. CBS News notes it's a gesture that set off many of the victims' families, including Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter, Jaime, was killed in the mass shooting.
"This is Defense Attorney Tamara Curtis, in court, playing with the monster who murdered my daughter & rubbing her middle finger on her cheek," he tweeted Tuesday, showing a video of what happened. "We are right to be upset." Meanwhile, the judge in the case, Broward County Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, is facing her own complaint after she hugged prosecutors following the shooter's sentencing, per WSVN. "The judge needs to be a neutral magistrate. To go hug one side, I think that's inappropriate," says Ernest Chang, president of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Chang sent the complaint Thursday about the hugging and other behavior he deemed "hostile and demeaning" toward the shooter's defense team to Jack Tuter, chief judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit. (Read more Parkland school shooting stories.)