The Broward County circuit judge who caused an uproar when video surfaced of her bullying and berating a woman in a wheelchair has quit the bench effective immediately.
Judge Merrilee Ehrlich was already planning to retire at the end of June. That plan was blown up when the video of a first-appearance hearing went viral after it was posted by the Miami Herald.
The misdemeanor defendant in the hearing, frail and seemingly out of breath, was found dead three days later by her family.
The courtroom footage elicited an overwhelming response from people on social media, as well as from Broward's elected public defender, Howard Finkelstein, who urged that Ehrlich be banned from the courtroom.
Ehrlich beat him to it, banning herself.
"It has been a great honor, privilege and pleasure to serve in the Unified Family Division of the 17th Judicial Circuit, for the past ten years," Ehrlich wrote in an email to Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter on Monday. "I am sending you this email to formally notify you that I am rescheduling my 6/30/18 retirement to become effective immediately, at 5 p.m. today, Monday, April 23, 2018."
Court Records show Ehrlich had submitted a resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott on April 10 — five days before Ehrlich verbally savaged the 59-year-old defendant, Sandra Faye Twiggs. Twiggs suffered from asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also called COPD.
Twiggs was arrested after clashing with her 19-year-old daughter. The daughter sustained a scratch.
Twiggs' family told the Miami Herald Friday that by the time Twiggs was released from jail and taken back home, she was starving, dizzy and borderline breathless, having had trouble getting her medications in the jail.
Twiggs wasn't the only target of the judge's ire on Sunday, April 15.
The next defendant up was a 30-year-old Fort Lauderdale woman charged with misdemeanor domestic battery. A police report says the woman allegedly pushed and slapped a man and then pulled his t-shirt, causing it "to stretch out and slightly tear."
In the video, the woman is worried about who will care for her 9-month-old baby while she is in jail. She begins to sob and shake. "Don't talk! You have an attorney here talking for you!" Ehrlich shouts. "Ma'am, be quiet or be removed! Be quiet!"
Officials say they are working to reassign judges to take over her caseload.