Courtroom, U.S. Courthouse, Toledo, Ohio
Getty Images

Florida Judge Steps Down After Being Recorded Berating 59-Year-Old Disabled Woman Who Later Died

The family of Sandra Faye Twiggs believe that her death is connected to her treatment in court.


A Florida judge has stepped down after video surfaced of a her ruthlessly berating a chronically ill disabled woman who later died, following her release from jail.  During a preliminary hearing last Sunday (April 15), Broward County Circuit Judge Merrilee Ehrlich, repeatedly scolded Sandra Faye Twiggs, a 59-year-old mother who was in a wheelchair and was arrested on a misdemeanor charge after a disagreement with her 19-year-old daughter.

Twiggs, had no criminal history and battled chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, along with asthma. She was arrested and booked on a domestic violence charge on April 13, for reportedly scratching her daughter during a disagreement. Her lawyer said that the incident was a misunderstanding.

In the court recording, Ehrlich begins yelling at Twiggs while asking questions that she stumbles to answer. “Excuse me! Don't say anything beyond what I am asking you!" Ehrlich warns.

Growing more exasperated, Ehrlich continues to lash out at Twiggs, who appears frail and begins coughing during the court appearance. “Ma’am do you need water? Just nod your head,” she orders before telling someone in the court to get her water, but interrupts Twiggs when she attempts to inform her of her health ailments. “Ma'am, I am not here to talk to you about your breathing treatments!”

Twiggs' daughter found her dead in her bed a day after she was released from jail.

In a letter to Broward County’s chief judge, public defender Howard Finkelstein, lambasted Ehrlich’ for displaying “aggressive and tyrannical behavior” that “revealed her lack of emotional fitness to sit on the bench.”

“She raised her voice to many defendants, berated the attorneys, and was impatient and exasperated during the proceedings,” Finkelstein wrote. “Her handling of two misdemeanor cases at first appearance on Sunday, April 15 was shocking and an embarrassment to Broward County.”

Amid mounting scrutiny, Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter told Ehrlich “not to return to the courthouse” due to her treatment of Twiggs. Ehrlich is due to retire on June 30.

According to the Miami Herald, Twiggs had trouble getting her medicine in jail and came home “starving, dizzy and borderline breathless.”

“My mom is gone and there is nothing I can do about it. I’m now a teenager who will have to bury her mother, ” Michelle Ballard, her daughter, told the Herald.

Twiggs was so “devastated” by the jail treatment that she could barely speak, a friend said.

“They treated me so bad, all I wanted was some medical attention,” her sister, Anna Twiggs, recalled Twiggs saying.

The family believes that the judge's treatment, and the night in jail, contributed to Twiggs' death.

See footage of the court hearing and the family's reaction below.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Spencer Weiner-Pool

South Carolina Baby Dies In Burning Car After Father Abandons Car In Police Chase

A South Carolina man has been charged with homicide by child abuse after police say he fled his vehicle that burst into flames killing his year old daughter.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Imhotep Osiris Norman reportedly broke down in tears during his bond hearing Saturday. (April 13)

According to law enforcement at about 10:20 PM Friday, a state trooper with the South Carolina Highway Patrol attempted to pull Norman over on Highway 14 near the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport.

Norman was doing 67 mph in a 45-mph zone.

When the car didn't stop. Seventh Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette said Norman's vehicle began to spark and smoke during the pursuit.

As the car approached the 58-mile marker on Interstate 85, troopers say they saw a large bag be thrown from the window. A few minutes later, the car was totally engulfed in flames. The car reportedly slowed down and troopers attempted to block the road before Norman escaped.

After the fire extinguished investigators found Norman's 1-year-old daughter, Xena Rah’Lah Norman dead in the backseat.

In court, Norman alleges he didn't know the car was on fire.  “I would never leave my daughter,” Norman said. “I would have gotten my daughter out of that car.”

Norman's mother Sharon Mathesis said she doesn't believe the cops version of events. “My son loved his daughter and would have never let this happen,” Mathis said. “He loved her so much. He loved her so much.”

If convicted, Norman faces 20 years in prison.

Continue Reading
FLINT, MI - FEBRUARY 7: The Flint River with downtown behind is shown on February 7, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Months ago the city told citizens they could use tap water if they boiled it first, but now say it must be filtered to remove lead. (Photo by Sarah Rice/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Flint Receives Remaining $77.7 Million Of Federal Funds To Improve Water Infrastructure

As the city of Flint, Mich. marks the five-year anniversary of the Flint Water Crisis, the city is set to receive $77.7 million in federal funding.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced the funding Monday (April 15),  as part of a $140 million loan to be allocated to Flint, East Lansing and Monroe County.  The funds for Flint are the remaining portion of a $120 million loan granted to the city in 2017, Mlive reports.

“While we are grateful for this funding it’s important to understand it's not new funding,” said Flint’s Director of Public Works Rob Bincsik. “The federal government awarded this funding and is utilizing the MDEQ’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund as the mechanism to disperse it to the City of Flint.”

Flint won’t have to pay back the funding as the loan is being offered at a “zero percent interest rate with 100-percent principal loan forgiveness.” The funds, which are aimed at improving infrastructure needs and ensuring long-term water quality,” will cover “the completion of a secondary water source pipeline,” in addition to improvements of reservoir and pump stations, construction of a chemical feed building, and replacement of water mains and meters.

East Lansing will receive a $51.7 million loan that includes $2.1 million in “principal forgiveness funds” for collection system improvements, a new pump station, and upgrades to the Water Resource Recovery Facility. Monroe County will get $10.2 million to upgrade and repair the Bedford Township Wastewater Treatment Plant. The funds will also support rehabbing lineal sewer pipes.

Continue Reading
Spartanburg County Detention Center via AP

Man Sentenced To 10 Years For Hiring Someone To Lynch His Black Neighbor

A white South Carolina man has been sentenced to 10 years inside a federal prison for hiring someone to lynch his black neighbor and place a burning cross on the lawn.

According to the New York Times, Brandon Cory Lecroy, 26 (pictured above) was arrested last year after the FBI received a tip about his plans. Lecroy reportedly contacted an unidentified white supremacist organization to assist with the murder-for-hire but instead was approached by an undercover FBI agent posing as a hitman.

The agent reportedly told Lecroy over the phone "$500 and he's a ghost." According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Lecroy made a down payment of $100 and was then taken into custody.

The South Carolina United States attorney's office said Lecroy received the maximum sentence on Friday (April 12) after pleading guilty, as well as three years supervision.

In March 2018, Lecroy went as far as texting an image of the intended targets to the FBI agent and offering the best possible times for the murder. His motive for the murder was to control his neighbor's property. Lecroy also suggested the agent use an  “a ghost gun,”  or an untraceable 9mm.

The names of the intended victim or the FBI agent have not been released.

Continue Reading

Top Stories