Zimmerman Wants Judge Disqualified for Bias

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on July 13, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

George Zimmerman's judge is biased and should be disqualified from any further role in his murder case, defense lawyer Mark O'Mara argues in a new motion filed Friday.

Sanford, Fla., Judge Kenneth Lester showed his bias by making "gratuitous, disparaging remarks" about Zimmerman in Lester's Order Setting Bail last week, Zimmerman's Motion to Disqualify states.

Lester also makes opinionated remarks about prosecutors' evidence, threatens contempt proceedings, and "advocates for Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes," O'Mara argues in the motion, which his legal team posted online.

Is that sufficient to get Judge Lester disqualified?

In Florida, the state's Rules of Judicial Administration describe two grounds to get a decision-maker like George Zimmerman's judge disqualified:

  • The party fears he will not get a fair trial or hearing because of the judge's bias or prejudice, or
  • The judge is related to a party or attorney, or the judge himself is a party or a material witness in the case.

A party's Motion to Disqualify must be filed within 10 days of the judge's bias being discovered. Judge Lester's Order Setting Bail, which allegedly revealed his bias, was filed July 5.

Because of Lester's alleged bias, George Zimmerman reasonably fears he can't get a fair trial, O'Mara argues. A trial date has not yet been set.

Zimmerman also fears he can't get a fair pretrial hearing about the use of Florida's Stand Your Ground law, which could give Zimmerman immunity from prosecution if he can prove he reasonably shot and killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense.

George Zimmerman's judge now has 30 days to rule on the Motion to Disqualify. If Judge Kenneth Lester is disqualified, Mark O'Mara would then have 20 days to ask a court to reconsider or vacate any of the judge's prior rulings, according to the Rules of Judicial Administration.

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