TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (NSF) - A South Florida appeals court Wednesday rejected an attempt by accused Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz to prevent disclosure of the names of mental-health experts who visit him in jail as part of his defense.
Cruz is charged with 17 counts of first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. His attorneys sought a protective order to prevent the disclosure of information on jail-visitation logs that would detail the names of mental-health experts who meet with him.
In part, Cruz’s attorneys argued that the experts’ names were covered by attorney-client privilege and that disclosure of the names could damage his right to a fair trial, according to Wednesday’s ruling by a panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal. The state and the Sun Sentinel newspaper opposed the request by Cruz’s attorneys, and a Broward County circuit judge denied the protective order.
The appeals court Wednesday upheld the circuit-court decision. “In sum, we conclude that petitioner (Cruz) failed to demonstrate that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in denying his motion for protective order,” said the seven-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Martha Warner and joined by judges Robert Gross and Melanie May. “The Constitution and the public records act do not authorize redacting the names of the experts visiting petitioner in jail. If public policy demands that these be kept confidential, it is for the Legislature to provide an exemption by statute.”