Court Grants George Zimmerman’s Request for New Judge

Appeals court rules that Judge Kenneth Lester was too biased against Zimmerman to preside over the murder trial. 

Posted: 08/30/2012 08:48 AM EDT
Judge Kenneth Lester

A second judge was removed from the Trayvon Martin case Wednesday after lawyers for shooter George Zimmerman convinced a Florida Appeal court that Judge Kenneth Lester was biased against their client.

Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal decided in a 2-1 ruling that Lester must remove himself from the case to allow the chief circuit judge to make a new appointment.

“Although many of the allegations in Zimmerman's motion, standing alone, do not meet the legal sufficiency test, 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," the decision read.

The request to replace Lester came after lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara argued that Lester displayed bias in his remarks about Zimmerman's character during his bond ruling in July.

Zimmerman was before Lester last month after prosecutors discovered he made several critical misrepresentations to the court about his finances and possession of a passport. In light of the new information, Zimmerman's original $150,000 bond was revoked and the second bond was set at $1 million.

The lone judge in dissent wrote that he didn’t believe Lester’s actions went so far as to warrant his removal from the case.  

Before Lester was assigned the case, Judge Jennifer Recksiedler was slated to preside, but was also asked to step down when Zimmerman’s defense pointed out a connection between Recksiedler’s husband and a CNN legal analyst Zimmerman consulted early in the case.

Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 shooting death of the unarmed teen.


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(Photo: Gary Green/The Orlando Sentinel-Pool/Getty Images)

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