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Shock Over Video of Judge Assailing a Sickly Woman

Video shows Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich giving Sandra Twiggs a 'tongue-lashing'
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2018 8:12 AM CDT

A judge in Broward County, Fla., who was due to retire June 30 won't be showing up for work between now and then, and not by choice. Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich was told not to return to the courthouse after she treated a sickly inmate "like [an] animal," per the woman's goddaughter. The Sun Sentinel has the background on Ehrlich's verbal tussle with Sandra Twiggs, 59, who appeared via video link from a local jail on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge after allegedly scratching her 19-year-old daughter during an April 13 argument over a fan. Ehrlich was to set Twiggs' bail, but video of their April 15 exchange shows her berating Twiggs, who was in a wheelchair and coughing due to asthma and chronic lung disease. "I'm not here to talk about your breathing treatment," yelled Ehrlich after Twiggs indicated she needed water and such a treatment.

"Ma'am, don’t even say yes. Just listen," she boomed at another point. "I'm not going to spend all day with her interrupting me," Ehrlich also said, as she herself repeatedly talked over Twiggs—who died in her sleep Wednesday. "When she came home from being in there she was never the same," Twiggs' goddaughter tells CBS Miami; in comments to Local 10 Twiggs' family suggests the experience could have contributed to her death. Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein calls it "aggressive and tyrannical behavior" and indicative of a "lack of emotional fitness." The Miami Herald brands it a "blistering, arm-waving, face-palming, tongue-lashing." The video only became publicized after Twiggs' death. "It was bad enough that it happened," says Chief Assistant Public Defender Gordon Weekes, "but it's compounded by the fact that she never even had the opportunity to get an apology." (More judge stories.)

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