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Zimmerman judge kicked off case

Zimmerman judge kicked off case

Via AP (h/t Samuel Keck in Tip Line)

 A three-judge panel in Florida has ruled that a former neighborhood watch leader charged in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin should be granted a new judge in his case.

Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that Judge Kenneth Lester should enter a motion to disqualify himself in George Zimmerman’s second-degree murder case. Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara asked the court earlier this month to overturn a previous ruling by Lester not to leave the case.

One of the three judges dissented in the ruling.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the State will not appeal the decision.

More to follow once I locate a copy of the decision.

Update:  Link to opinion by Ragspierre in the comments.  Not much there, it’s a short form Order, with little explanation.  My guess — it was a close enough call that the two judges didn’t want such a high profile case to have any unnecessary  distractions over judge selection.


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    Browndog in reply to Ragspierre. | August 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    No meat?


    At least there were potatoe’s.

    It’s one thing to be railroaded, another to have an obviously biased judge laying the tracks.

      Ragspierre in reply to Browndog. | August 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      You didn’t read the decision, did you?

        Browndog in reply to Ragspierre. | August 29, 2012 at 9:28 pm

        Did you read my comment?

        Obviously I didn’t read it-

        Kinda took your word and great unknowns-

        Should I not have??

        How did I know the second I hit submit you would go there?

        Look, Adobe and my computer are not friends, therefor I don’t read PDF’s unless it’s a tad more important than a Zimmerman thread. Hence, YOU basically said there is nothing substantial in the PDF, so I took you at your word.

        How about next time you just post: “Hey, no commenting on anybody else’s comment unless you read the PDF first”

        That way, we’ll all know the commenting rules–especially if you first format them in PDF.

          Ragspierre in reply to Browndog. | August 29, 2012 at 9:57 pm

          Dog, I do mind reading VERY badly. It is an admitted failing.

          It isn’t obvious to me you didn’t read the opinion, which is why I asked. I HATE making assumptions.

          But you leaped to “railroading” and there is nothing…zip, nada, zero…to support that. The majority says explicitly it is a close call. That isn’t gratuitous. It has to be taken at face value.

          This is called “due process”. And pretty careful damn due process, at that.

          PhillyGuy in reply to Browndog. | August 29, 2012 at 11:41 pm

          Cheer up Brown..Rags admitted he minds reading very’s a failing of his. I wouldn’t hold it against him.

        Milwaukee in reply to Ragspierre. | August 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm

        Unless those three judges share a level on animosity at the same level as the Wisconsin Supreme Court, I really doubt that two of them would come right out and accuse a lower judge of “railroading”. I would expect them to politely grant the request, and sugar-coat it as much as possible. I did read the decision. They only said enough to justify their action, as did the judge in dissent. Heck, for all we know they might have drawn straws and deliberately voted 2-to-1, just to avoid throwing red meat at either side. Had they come out strongly in favor of Zimmerman, that might have been more trouble. It is enough that Zimmerman will get a new judge. Perhaps the next judge will put the prosecutor on a little tighter leash.

          Ragspierre in reply to Milwaukee. | August 30, 2012 at 8:41 am

          You must be judging these jurists by yourself, since you have no possible basis for anything you say here otherwise.

          Milwaukee in reply to Milwaukee. | August 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm

          Rags: I was hoping that “Heck, for all we know …” would indicate that what followed was pure speculation about the intricate dance known as the judicial world. The fact that there was “no meat” in their decisions might mean that we’re free to guess what they were thinking, since they didn’t want to share too much with us.

        Voluble in reply to Ragspierre. | August 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm

        I took railroading to be the poster’s opinion of what was happening. I think that is pretty much every unbiased outside observer’s view of what is going on. Whether the judges who asked the trial judge to remove himself commented on it is irrelevant to forming an opinion.

        But they wouldn’t have asked the trial judge to remove himself if they didn’t think that on balance he was not acting impartially.

    Now we need to see that Sea Hag of a prosecutor get the boot.

great unknown | August 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm

A very, very polite and subtle benchslap. And perhaps a reminder that there are people watching who don’t care much for the commingling of politics in this case.

Now if only the prosecutor were to be dismissed…

The dissenting judge apparently thought that, while the trial judge’s behavior whas metaphorical rape, it did not rise to the level of rape-rape.

There may be a fine live between clever and stupid but in Florida the line of acceptable impartiality appears rather broad.

In Florida, there is almost a free “first bite” at disqualifying a judge. All it requires is a legally sufficient pleading indicating a reasonable fear by the litigant that the judge is biased. Judges are not permitted to comment on the motion. They are only permitted to grant or deny. Subsequent motions require a showing of actual bias.

It seemed to me at the time of the bond hearing and controversy that the judge had gone beyond the bounds. It is certainly possible to interpret his remarks on the record otherwise, but it is equally possible they indicated a level of prejudice warranting granting the defense request to recuse.

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I notice the lead attorney for the State is listed as “Pamela J. Bondi, Attorney General,” a name that would mean nothing to me if I had not a few hours ago heard her speak at the GOP convention and to Greta van Sustern a little while later.

I wonder if this is along the lines of a formality or if she had some relatively active involvement. Surely, the AG does not involve herself in every motion for a judge to recuse himself.

    ThomasD in reply to Jingo. | August 30, 2012 at 10:03 am

    That’s an interesting question. In Florida each judicial circuit independently elects a State Attorney as specified under the Judiciary section of the State Constitution, but AFAIK they are not in any way ‘under’ the State Attorney General who is a member of the Executive Branch.

    Is this some sort of courtesy to the office, or can she really exert direct control over an independently elected official?

    janitor in reply to Jingo. | August 30, 2012 at 11:31 am

    It’s just a formality.

It’s about time.

“The next step is for Circuit Judge Alan Dickey in Sanford to pick a new judge. It’s expected to be Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson, 58, another felony trial judge in Sanford who has a reputation for handing down tough sentences.

She’s been a judge for 13 years, much of it on the criminal bench, although she was a civil litigation specialist in private practice.”

The Orlando Sentinel

    Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | August 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I love it that some of you “unlike” information!

    That says SOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooo much about you!

      ThomasD in reply to Ragspierre. | August 31, 2012 at 10:23 am

      So if you were to report that Barack Obama is currently POTUS and people disliked that you’d somehow find it revealing?

      They are called opinions for a reason…