The Fifth District Court of Appeals in Daytona, Fla., voted 2-1 that Lester should be disqualified. Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, had appealed to the court in early July for Lester to be removed.
His motion to disqualify the judge came in response to Lester’s order setting Zimmerman’s bail at $1 million. In it Lester wrote that Zimmerman had “flaunted the system” and practiced “deception upon the court” after it was revealed that Zimmerman and his wife Shellie had not told the court he had two passports and tried to hide the amount of money their defense fund had raised. record. They were also accused of speaking in code in reference to their assets.
In a 17-page document O’Mara accused Lester of having a bias against Zimmerman, writing that “the court made gratuitous, disparaging remarks about Mr. Zimmerman’s character, advocated for Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted for additional crimes; offers a personal opinion about the evidence for said prosecution; and continues to hold over Mr. Zimmerman’s head the threat of future contempt proceedings.”
Fifth District Court Judges C. Alan Lawson and Jay P. Cohen concurred that O’Mara’s motion was “legally sufficient” in describing his fear that Zimmerman could not get a fair and impartial trial. The third judge, Kerry I. Evander, dissented, writing that he “didn’t believe the order ‘crossed the line’ so as to require the granting of his motion.”
The Office of the Florida Attorney General argued that there was no evidence to suggest that Lester would not give a fair trial, writing that “the judge was simply giving Petitioner a well deserved tongue lashing for allowing others to mislead the court about his passport and his financial situation.”
A spokesman told ABC News that the Attorney General’s Office would not appeal the decision. The Office of Angela Corey, the special prosecutor on the case, had no comment.
Zimmerman is charged with second degree murder for the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin. He is out on bail awaiting trial, and will next appear in court in October for a regularly scheduled docket hearing.