Video: Ailing inmate dies after Broward County Judge berates her for misdemeanor

Broward Judge Merrilee Ehrlich

Broward County Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich raises her voice, scolds and berates attorneys and defendant during court proceedings. Story:

Posted by Miami Herald on Saturday, April 21, 2018

Broward County Circuit Court Judge Merrilee Ehrlich has resigned and is dealing with backlash after a video captured what some are calling a brutal treatment of a frail inmate who died a few days after appearing in her courtroom. Sandra Twiggs, 59, who suffered from asthma and chronic lung disease, was facing a misdemeanor charge  resulting from a family dispute when Ehrlich delivered a sharp-tongued, arm-waving speech to the out-of-breath woman.

Ehrlich was overseeing a first appearance from Twiggs, who had never been in trouble before when the Lauderhill Police Department charged her on April 13 for allegedly scratching her 19-year-old daughter during an argument about a fan.

When the inmate attempted to explained her ailments and breathing treatments, the judge told her, “I’m not here to talk about your breathing treatment.”

The judge repeatedly interrupted Twiggs, telling her to just listen. “Ma’am, don’t even say yes. Just listen,” she said.

Ehrlich allowed Twiggs to be released without bond on the domestic violence charge against her, but she told Twiggs she would need to check in with a court office after her release. “You have to arrange for someone to carry you if you cannot get there yourself,” Ehrlich said.

Reports indicate that Twiggs died in her sleep a few days later.

Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter said Saturday that Ehrlich, who was scheduled to retire in June, will not to return to the courthouse. Tuter said he would contact Twiggs’ family to apologize. Judge Merrilee Ehrlich has reportedly resigned since the video was released.

“I am saddened and disappointed in the way Judge Ehrlich behaved on the video. Her behavior cannot be condoned,” 

Carolyn Porter, Twiggs’ goddaughter, said that Twiggs “tried to tell us how they treated her, but she had anxiety, and every time she tried to talk about it, she couldn’t breathe.”

Twiggs’ family wants justice for their deceased love one. They say they had no idea how she was treated until the video was released.

Watch the Broward County Court video here.


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