Tamara Curtis, a member of Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz’s defense counsel, is under investigation by the Florida state bar association, a spokesperson confirmed to The Daily Beast on Thursday night.
News of the inquiry comes a day after Cruz was formally sentenced to life in prison, following an emotional two-day hearing during which the parents of his victims lambasted his attorneys for their conduct over the course of the trial.
The Florida bar’s probe was first reported by Miami-based station WPLG. In a statement to The Daily Beast, bar association spokesperson Jennifer Krell Davis confirmed that the investigation was ongoing but did not elaborate.
Curtis, an assistant public defender, was not present in court on Wednesday. She went unnamed by the relatives who gave testimony. But several of them referenced a moment during a pretrial hearing recess weeks ago when she appeared to flash an obscene gesture at the court, rubbing her middle finger on her cheek as she sat next to a smirking Cruz.
The bar investigation’s subject and scope were unclear as of Thursday night, as was the exact date the inquiry was launched. A call to the office of Melisa McNeill, Cruz’s chief public defender, was not immediately returned.
What prompted Curtis’ gesture is unknown, but Fred Guttenberg, the father of 14-year-old victim Jaime Guttenberg, said last month that the attorney had been “frustrated” by how Judge Elizabeth Scherer was responding to her courtroom arguments. “That moment was disgusting, immature, and reprehensible,” he tweeted. “It was also a reminder to me that this defense team long ago lost any humanity for the victims of this crime.”
In footage of the incident, Curtis appears to catch sight of a courtroom camera, making an inaudible comment to a woman sitting next to her. The woman