Like a diligent batter chipping away at an ace pitcher, George Zimmerman’s legal team keeps disqualifying judges from their client’s high-profile murder trial in the Trayvon Martin shooting. The latest foul ball tipped into the bleachers: trial judge Kenneth Lester . . .
On Wednesday a three-judge appeals court panel found that Judge Lester had created an appearance of bias through a series of rulings and statements in Zimmerman’s case, which gave the defendant a reasonable fear that he could not receive a fair hearing from the judge.
Judge Lester’s questionable acts included accusing the defendant of perjury and of ‘flouting the system’ during a bond hearing, and releasing the statement of a woman who said that Zimmerman had touched her sexually while they were both children.
The lawyer in me has to ask: what’s the relevancy of this inflammatory and decades-old allegation to the fair determination of facts in Zimmerman’s murder trial?
The obvious answer: none at all.
It’s just an obvious effort by Lester to destroy Zimmerman’s reputation and credibility in the eyes of potential jurors before the trial even begins. It’s usually the prosecution’s job to destroy the credibility of the defendant, but it sure helps when the judge seems to be pinch-hitting for the prosecutors’ team.
“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,”
Judge Lester’s replacement hasn’t been named. I’m starting to wonder if Seminole County will run out of judges before Zimmerman’s case goes to trial. Lester is the third judge to bow (or be forced) out of the case since charges were initially filed.
The first judge, Jessica Recksiedler, recused herself because of an imputed conflict of interest involving her attorney husband. John D. Galluzzo, the next judge in rotation, declined the case because of prior personal and business relationships with Zimmerman’s lead attorney Mark O’Mara.
We’ll have to wait and see if this change in the lineup brings Zimmerman a better chance of taking the pennant, but it seems that almost any judge with a pulse and a conscience will be better for him than Judge Lester was.
And is it just me, or is the mainstream media still calling Zimmerman ‘white?’