George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch leader accused of murder in the death of Trayvon Martin, has filed a motion to disqualify the judge in his case. Zimmerman, 28, claims Judge Kenneth Lester showed bias against him in his recent ruling after a bond hearing. In a motion released on Friday, Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, wrote, “the Court makes gratuitous, disparaging remarks about Mr. Zimmerman’s character.”
The motion also says that “the Court has created a reasonable fear in Mr. Zimmerman that this Court is biased against him” and “he cannot receive a fair and impartial trial or hearing.”
The Motion to Disqualify further states that Judge Lester also makes opinionated remarks about prosecutors’ evidence, threatens contempt proceedings, and “advocates for Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes.” Because of Lester’s alleged bias, Zimmerman reasonably fears he can’t get a fair trial, O’Mara argues.
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.
The judge now has 30 days to rule on the Motion to Disqualify. If disqualified, 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.
Firing back, the State Attorney’s office released a statement Friday afternoon objecting to Zimmerman’s motion. “The State objects to the Defendant trying to disqualify Judge Lester. We will file a formal response to the Defendant’s Motion early next week.”
Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting death of Martin, who was 17 years old, in a gated Sanford, Florida community. Last Friday, Zimmerman bonded out of jail for a second time after posting a $1 million bond.
In a scathing order, Lester restricted Zimmerman’s travel to within Seminole County, subjected him to a curfew, barred him from the local airport and required him to wear an electronic monitoring device. He is also not allowed to apply for a passport or to drink alcohol.
A trial date has not yet been set.
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