George Zimmerman Asks For New Judge Again

Prosecutors responded Friday that they object to his motion trying to disqualify Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    George Zimmerman was released from jail July 6, a day after a judge set his second bond at $1 million. Zimmerman left the Seminole County Jail wearing a suit with a white dress shirt shortly before 3 p.m. West, one of Zimmerman's attorneys, said his client is very happy. (Published Monday, Jul 16, 2012)

    The ex-neighborhood watch volunteer charged with killing Trayvon Martin is again asking for a new judge.

    George Zimmerman filed a motion Friday asking that Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. be disqualified from the case.

    Zimmerman says Lester's comments in a bond order led him to believe Lester is prejudiced against him. The judge said in the order that Zimmerman and his wife misled him about their finances.

    Prosecutors responded Friday to Zimmerman's request for a new judge, saying they object to his motion trying to disqualify Lester. A spokeswoman said a formal response to Zimmerman's motion will be filed early next week.

    Read Zimmerman's Full Motion (PDF)

    In his motion, Zimmerman argues that Lester made "gratuitious, disparaging remarks" about his character in a July 5 ruling setting Zimmerman's bond at $1 million.

    In that order, the judge also "advocates 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. In doing so, the Court has created a reasonable fear in Mr. Zimmerman that this Court is biased against him and because of this prejudice he cannot receive a fair and impartial trial or hearing by this Court," Zimmerman's motion says.

    In his ruling, Lester said that Zimmerman "has flaunted the system," and has "tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so."

    "Contrary to the image presented by the Defendant not by evidence but only by argument of counsel, it appears to this Court that the Defendant is manipulating the system to his own benefit," Lester wrote. "The evidence is clear that the Defendant and his wife acted in concert, but primarily at the Defendant's direction, to conceal their cash holdings."

    Read the Judge's Full July 5 Bond Ruling (PDF)

    Zimmerman, 28, is charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty, claiming self-defense in the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens.

    Zimmerman previously asked for a new judge after he was charged in April, claiming there was a potential conflict of interest with the judge. His request was granted and the case was turned over to Lester.

    A spokeswoman for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit said she expects the judge will respond in a timely fashion to Friday's motion by Zimmerman.

    The court also released a second document Friday, in which Lester denied Zimmerman’s request that he reconsider a June 12 ruling in which he ordered the release of a second statement by “Witness #9” in the case.

    Lester also said that he would not reconsider his order for the release of 145 jail calls by Zimmerman.

    “Any jail call that was disclosed during discovery became a public record upon it being furnished to the Defendant” and should be disclosed, Lester wrote.

    Zimmerman’s lawyers previously said that the 145 jail calls are irrelevant to the charges against him and could jeopardize his friends and family if they are released.

    Lester wrote, however, that those speaking with Zimmerman in jail have no legitimate argument that they have a right to privacy during the calls, as they are told the calls will be recorded.

    The second statement by Witness #9 and some of the jail calls are expected to be made available to the media Monday morning.

    Full Coverage of the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman Case