|New judge for Zimmerman|
|Friday, 20 April 2012 12:25|
The Florida judge originally assigned to the trial of George Zimmerman has recused herself from the case. Seminole Circuit Judge Jessica Recksielder approved a motion recently to disqualify herself from the criminal trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Central Florida
On Monday, Zimmerman's lawyer Mark O'Mara requested that Recksiedler be removed after she revealed her husband works with lawyer and legal analyst Mark NeJame, who is currently under contract to provide analysis on the case for news network CNN.
In a statement from the Seminole Circuit Court, Recksiedler said "the cumulative effect of the events and the totality of the circumstances provides a legally sufficient basis for this court to grant the motion to disqualify."
Following the arrest of Zimmerman, NeJame acknowledged the possibility of Judge Recksilder withdrawing from the case due to their connection. In addition to Nejame's CNN contract, Judge Recksilder also revealed that Zimmerman approached NeJame about defending him for his second degree murder charges. NeJame then declined and recommended O'Mara.
The case will now be assigned to Judge Kenneth Lester, Jr., 58, who has 15 years' experience on the bench, including some high profile murder cases, compared to Recksiedler, 39, who in comparison is as a relatively inexperienced judge with less than two years' experience. Judge Lester is an alumnus of Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
Local attorneys who have been involved with cases in Judge Lester's court refer to him as a "good, firm" judge, who is a "straight talker." In some of the murder cases he has presided over, Judge Lester has been known to hand down tough sentences.
For now, Judge Lester is responsible for overseeing Zimmerman's bond hearing at the Seminole Circuit Court. Zimmerman's security following the hearing is a major concern according to his lawyer, O'Mara. O'Mara told reporters that due to the huge public outcry against his client, Zimmerman would need to be assigned to a secure location.
After a month of protests and demands for Zimmerman's arrest, he was charged with second degree murder and taken into custody following Duval County Special Prosecutor Angela Corey's decision to pursue the case against him.
The controversy began the night of February 26, when Zimmerman shot and killed unarmed North Miami teenager Trayvon Martin as he walked through the Sanford residential complex where both his father and Zimmerman lived. Claiming self defense, Zimmerman was not arrested by police at the scene, or after their initial investigation.
A series of witness accounts and the release of 911 tape recordings of calls Zimmerman made that night however sparked a public dispute against Zimmerman's account of Martin's death. The delay of law enforcement officials to arrest Zimmerman, despite the suggestive evidence, also led to accusations of unequal justice within the Sanford Police department.
The case has launched major discussions about racial profiling and the fairness of the criminal justice system. This case will also likely test the extent of racial profiling and the controversial "Stand your Ground" law, which grants citizens with a reasonable fear of being threatened during a confrontation the right to use lethal force in self defense.