George Zimmerman Defense Moves to Disqualify Judge

Trayvon Martin killing suspect's defense cites judge's harsh criticism.

ByCandace Smith
July 13, 2012, 7:34 PM

July 13, 2012 — -- George Zimmerman, accused of murdering 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, filed a motion on Friday to disqualify the judge that will preside over his case, citing his fear that he will not be given a fair trial.

Zimmerman, via his attorney, Mark O'Mara, filed the 17-page document with the Seminole County Circuit Court. The motion is a response to Judge Kenneth Lester's July 5 order that set $1 million bail for Zimmerman and claimed that Zimmerman had "flaunted the system" and practiced "deception upon the court."

It was the second time Lester granted Zimmerman bail. Lester revoked a previous $150,000 bail in April after prosecutors presented evidence that Zimmerman and his wife misled the court about how much money they had available by speaking in code on phone calls. Prosecutors added that Zimmerman initially lied about the existence of a second passport.

O'Mara recently tried to appeal to the judge that Zimmerman was confused and fearful back in March when the alleged deception occurred. In a second bond hearing in June, O'Mara reiterated that Zimmerman had voluntarily turned himself in to the court and now was completely open regarding his financial ability.

Lester, however, in that July 5 bail order, remained skeptical of Zimmerman's motives and expressed irritation at being lied to. He accused Zimmerman of manipulating the court and even suggested that if Zimmerman had the opportunity he would have fled prosecution.

In Friday's motion, O'Mara wrote that Lester's order was indicative of a bias against Zimmerman, saying that the judge's statements were "disingenuous, self-serving manipulations."

"In said order, 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," the motion read.

O'Mara asserted that the judge and court "departed from its role as an impartial, objective minister of justice" and should therefore be removed from the case.

The state's attorney's office prosecuting the case said it planned to release a formal statement next week, but "objects to the defendant trying to disqualify Judge Lester."

Zimmerman is currently out of jail on bail and will remain in a safe house in Seminole County, Fla., until the trial begins.

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