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African American in Prison

Source: Doug Berry / Getty

A Florida judge has been disgraced and banned from returning to a courtroom after berating and bullying a woman who was clearly suffering in her courtroom and would tragically die just two days after the humiliating encounter.

Judge Merrilee Ehrlich can be seen on video yelling at, humiliating and repeatedly telling 59-year-old inmate Sandra Twiggs that she didn’t care about her health problems in footage that is incredibly difficult to watch. Twiggs, who is seen clearly suffering, coughing and struggling to breathe, tried to explain to the judge that she needed her breathing treatment, to which the judge snapped “ma’am, I’m not here to talk about your breathing treatment.”

When she was later released without bond for a minor domestic charge, Twiggs was “never the same” according to her goddaughter Carolyn Porter.

“[She] 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,” Porter told the SunSentinel. 

She died in her sleep two days later.

Broward Chief Administrative Judge Jack Tuter told Judge Ehrlich not to return to the courtroom, saying her behavior could not be condoned. Still, Ehrlich was already set to retire in the summer, so it’s hardly punishment for her disgusting treatment of Twiggs.

The events come in a week of horrible, degrading and disgraceful treatment of Black people around the country, including the Waffle House assault of 25-year-old Chikesia Clemons by police officers after she asked for plastic cutlery and the death of a young woman on an American Airlines flight that refused to make an emergency landing in the middle of a health crisis.

Twiggs’ two daughters have created a GoFundMe to help raise funds to pay for their mother’s unexpected funeral. You can donate to that here.

Watch the video below:


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