Zimmerman Gets New Judge

A Florida appeals court has ruled that George Zimmerman is entitled to a new judge. In a 2-1 decision (below), the Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled Judge Kenneth Lester has to go. Zimmerman accused Lester of “gratuitous, disparaging remarks” he made as part of his bail bond proceedings. Lester accused Zimmerman of “flout[ing] the system” when he failed to report outside donations. That would normally not result in a forced recusal but Florida is one of the states that makes disqualification mandatory when the motion is “legally sufficient.”

The court of appeals did not rule on the validity of the alleged bias since it did not view that question as determinative. The ruling is quite short:

Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.330 requires a trial judge to grant a motion to disqualify without determining the accuracy of the allegations in the motion, so long as the motion is “legally sufficient.” R.M.C., 77 So. 3d at 236. “A motion is legally sufficient if it alleges facts that would create in a reasonably prudent person a well-founded fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial.” Id. (citing MacKenzie v. Super Kids Bargain Store, Inc., 565 So. 2d 1332 (Fla. 1990)). Although many of the allegations in Zimmerman’s motion, standing alone, do not meet the legal sufficiency test,1 and while this is admittedly a close call, upon careful review we find that the allegations, taken together, meet the threshold test of legal sufficiency. Accordingly, we direct the trial judge to enter an order of disqualification which requests the chief circuit judge to appoint a successor judge.

However, Judge Evander dissented in an equally short ruling:

I respectfully dissent. As the majority correctly observes, adverse rulings are not,
in and of themselves, sufficient to require the granting of a motion to disqualify. Although the trial court’s order clearly manifested an exceedingly strong belief by the trial judge that Zimmerman had “flouted” and “tried to manipulate” the system, I do not believe the order “crossed the line” so as to require the granting of his motion.

Here is the rule in Florida:

2.330. Disqualification of Trial Judges

(a) Application. This rule applies only to county and circuit judges in all matters in all divisions of court. . . .

(d) Grounds. A motion to disqualify shall show:

(1) that the party fears that he or she will not receive a fair trial or hearing because of specifically described prejudice or bias of the judge; or

(2) that the judge before whom the case is pending, or some person related to said judge by consanguinity or affinity within the third degree, is a party thereto or is interested in the result thereof, or that said judge is related to an attorney or counselor of record in the cause by consanguinity or affinity within the third degree, or that said judge is a material witness for or against one of the parties to the cause.
. . .
(f) Determination — Initial Motion. The judge against whom an initial motion to disqualify under subdivision (d)(1) is directed shall determine only the legal sufficiency of the motion and shall not pass on the truth of the facts alleged. If the motion is legally sufficient, the judge shall immediately enter an order granting disqualification and proceed no further in the action. If any motion is legally insufficient, an order denying the motion shall immediately be entered. No other reason for denial shall be stated, and an order of denial shall not take issue with the motion.

The rule is clearly designed to err on the side of caution to guarantee a defendant an unbiased judge — even if the grounds are debatable. Florida law establishes a de novo standard for review in such cases presumably given the procedural emphasis on the rule. See R.M.C. v. D.C., 77 So. 3d 234, 236 (Fla. 1st DCA 2012). What is interesting is that the rule itself militates heavily in favor of disqualification, but other cases like R.M.C. has stressed the satisfaction of an objective standard: “A mere “subjective fear[ ]” of bias will not be legally sufficient; rather, the fear must be objectively reasonable. Id. at 242. The burden is on the party seeking disqualification to show a well-founded fear of not receiving a fair trial. See Adkins v. Winkler, 592 So. 2d 357 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992)”

Most judges would have denied the motion as did Judge Lester. This type of statement at a bond hearing is not uncommon even if some would argue that there were mitigating circumstances for Zimmerman. What do you think?

Here is the opinion: 5D12-3198.op

Source: Palm Beach

70 thoughts on “Zimmerman Gets New Judge”

  1. Lets see Georgies high school records, shall we? We know his work record is full of assaults, bullying, brown nosing, racist mocking, & inappropriate behavior of all kinds.

  2. this Itchin’ dog should look at the case another way, say a black dog was the shooter and a white pup is dead in the morgue. that black dog with the gun would be in jail from the start, no bail, no nothin’.

  3. shano, it doesn’t seem to matter one whit about anything GZ ever did. Only TM’s actions are the show here!

  4. Trayvon may have smoked some pot in his young life, but George Zimmerman took a cocktail of speed and prescription Meth- amphetamine every single day…….wonder what drugs he is taking now?

  5. feemeister, it was not dumb at all. The way this is being “spun” by the defense, you’d think it was a big civil suit between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and you’d think it was a case of “let the best man win.” They’re trying to say that Zimmerman didn’t commit a crime because Trayvon Martin NEEDED KILLING.

    It’s like the old rape trials. A guy didn’t rape a woman if she NEEDED to be raped because she was acting like a slut, see?

    By this version of reality, Trayvon’s acting like a “thug” gave Zimmerman the right to kill him.

  6. Well that was DUMB! I meant to say to prosecute Zimmerman I guess, as the prosecutor would be the one representing him. But it does almost seem like Trayvon needs a lawyer to actually represent HIM! Which is how I really meant that . . .

  7. OH MY GOSH!!! Something from his school records! I should have known!

    I wish I knew the value assigned to each human life, and the way the values were tallied!

    I remember when I was growing up, I thought that if anyone anywhere in the world were to kidnap an American and threaten him/her, that the US would bring out every big gun and cannon in the world to save that person. And it was because EVERY human life in American was so valued, that we would do ANYTHING to rescue and save anybody. (I think also from things I’ve read that the people in camps in WW2 also thought that if it was brought out and made public what was being done to them that people would break in and get them out of there, and teach the Nazis a lesson or two. I remember the USS Pueblo (I was a kid then) and also the Iran hostages, and thinking our hero military would get them all back safe and sound. It didn’t matter who (individually) the hostages were–they were AMERICAN!) I was raised on these things, and raised thinking that all life mattered.

    But that doesn’t seem to be so anymore, does it! Nobody seems important enough to matter anymore. It makes me sick! ”Here come the marines” has totally lost its meaning.

    I would LOVE to see Gerry Spence represent Trayvon!

  8. feemeister,

    The subject baggie is what was found on Trayvon at school. It’s in his school records that O’Mara has requested. No baggie was on Trayvon at the time of the shooting.

  9. Feemeister, it says NOTHING about Trayvon Martin — I just think the defense strategy is to make enough people in the public think Trayvon Martin was “not much of a loss” so that when there is a plea deal worked out, folks do not go and tear down the Seminole County Courthouse, brick by brick, and throw it down toilets all over the country.

    It’s theater. The reason the Feds have not come out already saying the SPD violated TM’s civil rights and kicking ass in the department and even higher is that everyone, EVERYONE, official down there wants this to be wrapped up WITHOUT A TRIAL. If they have to slander a dead kid to achieve that, no big deal.

    Cover-up artists FILL our government, ALL THREE BRANCHES, every level, everyWHERE.

  10. I think I have missed something here; I haven’t kept up on this a whole lot. If there WAS a baggie, and it DID have pot, and it WAS Trayvon’s what DIFFERENCE would that make? Would that mean that Trayvon was the bad guy and Zimmerman the good guy? Of course, we know that since pot is illegal, only criminal lawbreaker really bad thugs ever use it. Does that mean that these potsmoking bad people are doing really terrible criminal things and must be killed off like the thugs they are? (While remembering of course, we had a president that used it once, though he didn’t inhale!)

    Is that what’s going on here? They’re saying Trayvon had some pot, so he obviously was a person deserving of the wrath of George Zimmerman? Are they saying this mitigates what he did in some way?

  11. Feemeister, you nailed it.

    Even the baggie with “residue of marijuana” in it proves nothing because
    (a) there was no forensic test to determine that there really was residue of marijuana in the baggie; and (b) there was no arrest and chain of custody to prove that the baggie with residue of marijuana was the legal possession of Trayvon Martin; and (c) etc. etc.

    NOTHING about Trayvon Martin can prove ANYTHING about what George Zimmerman did that night because IF everything he says is even approximately true, he had no reasonable expectation that he would be greatly bodily harmed or killed, and that’s the only point to be made.

    This is theater. At the victim’s expense. Not meant to prove anything. O’Mara is playing a limited PR game now to try to justify a plea.

  12. OH MY GOSH!!! SERIOUSLY??? Let’s see! If he got straight A’s that means what? He was a snotty smarty bratboy that needed taking down a peg? And if he got straight E’s what? He was just a stupo who needed to go around stealing and killing to make a living? And what if he made straight Ds? That means he’s not trying, he’s probably on drugs and needs to be killed? And if he made straight Cs? That means he was an averagely smart hoodlum who was out to be a crook and kill people? and if he made straight Bs? that means he was mad at the world because he just couldn’t do good enough, so he was taking drugs and going to kill people? And right before the confrontation, did Zimmerman yell out, ”Hey Kid? What grades did you make in school? QUICK, out with it! I need this info so I can decide if I want to kill you or not?” I mean SERIOUSLY??? This is just RIDICULOUS! And ITA! If they need Travyon’s records, then they need Zimmerman’s also. This is INSANE!!!!

  13. So O’Mara wants Trayvon Martin’s school records. I think that’s excellent. I think the prosecutor should also get the following analogous records on George Zimmerman: all school records (back to kindergarten); all work records (of all jobs, in Virginia, Florida or elsewhere); and all records of George working “under the table” so that those parties he worked won’t be omitted. YES! Good idea, since this is a “comparative goodness and honesty test.”

  14. I agree.
    The only reason I can imagine what he was thinking is that I spent many years trying to figure out what was going on inside people’s heads when they did horrible things. I studied it, as a layperson, but very diligently.

    It’s peculiar. They begin to think about ONLY themselves, so intensely, the other person becomes less and less and less…and then nothing.

  15. You’re one up on me. I can’t even BEGIN to imagine what he was thinking about when he did such a thing. I can’t fathom what makes people do things like that to people. This (to me) is a stalking. He STALKED that boy and scared him. And judging from his remarks he made, he enjoyed every second of it. Going after a ”punk.” It’s truly sickening!

  16. On another thread, Mike Spindell said, about some police officers:

    “it is all about not allowing perceived challenges to their authority and/or disrespect. These challenges engender rage and retribution that dehumanizes their victims as well as themselves.”

    Although George was not a police officer when he dehumanized and killed Trayvon Martin, this is what I think happened emotionally inside George’s head at the time of the alleged murder.

  17. My impression is that nobody on the prosecution side is the least bit upset about the appointment of Judge Nelson to replace Judge Lester in this case. My impression is also that nobody on the prosecution side is the least bit upset about the rest of the publicity or current analysis of the case and the evidence made public so far, either. 🙂

  18. Believe me, Feemeister, more happened in that police station, and even in the squad car before they arrived at the station, than we will ever know. The idea is very obviously that if someone like George Z targets someone like Trayvon Martin somewhere like Sanford, Florida, no, the target does NOT have the right to fight back; if the targeter gets injured while killing the target, he gets to claim self-defense. Only a killer without a scratch on him could ever be charged, according to some (incuding Dershowitz and some other fairly prominent defense counsel).

  19. Malisha, what just kills me in all this, is the part where Trayvon ”skipped away.” There was someone suspicious who was watching him and after him. He was trying to get away. Said creep came after him and attacked him. I’m sure Trayvon did what he could to defend himself, to get this attacking creep away from him. So since he was defending himself from a situation where he was surely afraid, he’s shot and killed, and the killer was ”standing his ground!” He was standing his ground alright! But why the innocent are not allowed to fight back is just beyond me. This whole thing is just sick!

    And it DOES look to me as if it would be up to the prosecutor and the jury to decide whether ground was being stood or not; not the cops.

  20. Feemeister, right. And every single small sound-byte or isolated action is explained by George Zimmerman as if it does not form part of an organic whole:

    “He looks suspicious” = He doesn’t look like a hard-core athlete and yet he’s walking around in the rain (??)

    “He looks like he’s up to no good” = He’s looking around at houses, “just looking about” — and there have been burglaries in the neighborhood (meaning, of course, that now nobody is allowed to look at houses)

    “He looks like he’s on drugs or something” = no explanation

    “These a55holes, they always get away” = there were some burglaries and not all the burglars were caught

    “Sh*t, he’s running” = He skipped away

    “He ran” = I don’t know where he went but he went into the darkness

    I got out of my truck = I couldn’t remember the name of the street

    I did not return to my truck = I was at least going to try to find the right address

    I did not identify myself as a Neighborhood Watch volunteer = I was afraid at that time to confront him

    He broke my nose = HE made ME into the victim; I”M the VICTIM.

    I pulled my weapon = Up until that point I had forgotten I had it on me

    I aimed = I had to be careful not to shoot my other hand

    I fired one shot = See? I didn’t fire any more shots than necessary

    Each little piece gets explained away by some little comment. No actual plan (other than God’s of course) was involved, things just happened, and most of all, Trayvon Martin did wrong. That was what happened. He made me kill him. Yeah, that’s it.

    So can George explain why Trayvon would “skip away” rather than violently assault him as soon as he got out of his truck? George doesn’t know; how would George know what goes on in the mind of a bad person? Only God could know that.

    Can George explain why Trayvon would risk attacking a man who might be armed, when Trayvon knew that he was UNarmed? George doesn’t know, how would George know what goes on in the mind of a foolish person. Only God could know that.

    So can George explain why he didn’t stay in his truck to wait for the police to come and check out the suspicious “suspect”? Well, finally, we have an answer to that one: It was all part of God’s plan and George cannot question or “second-guess” God’s plan.

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