Skip to main content

Zimmerman's defense team files appeal to remove judge from case

By the CNN Wire Staff
August 14, 2012 -- Updated 1127 GMT (1927 HKT)
A photo posted online Monday, December 3, shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, 28, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Other evidence photos were released earlier this year: A photo posted online Monday, December 3, shows George Zimmerman with blood on his nose and lips. His attorneys say it was taken the night unarmed teen Trayvon Martin was killed in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, 28, faces second-degree murder charges in the death of Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Other evidence photos were released earlier this year:
HIDE CAPTION
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
Trayvon Martin evidence
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • George Zimmerman is charged with murder in the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin
  • A judge revoked his $150,000 bond after saying Zimmerman and his wife lied about finances
  • Zimmerman's defense wanted the judge out for his "gratuitous, disparaging" language
  • The judge denied the defense request that he step down, calling it "legally insufficient"

(CNN) -- Lawyers for George Zimmerman, the Florida man charged with murder in the death of teenager Trayvon Martin, said Monday that they are appealing a judge's decision not to step aside in the controversial case.

In a one-sentence order issued August 1, Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester said that defense lawyers' July request that he recuse himself was "legally insufficient."

The same team announced Monday on a website they've set up that they'd since filed a petition for writ of prohibition asking Florida's fifth district appeals court to try to remove Lester from the case. The office of lawyer Mark O'Mara later confirmed to CNN that the appeal was filed Monday.

"Right now, of course, he is still the trial judge on the case, (and) we're still moving forward with whatever we have to do or need to do," O'Mara said of Lester on Monday, according to CNN affiliate WESH. "But the appellate court will handle what's called this extraordinary writ as quickly as they can."

Judge in Zimmerman case says he won't step aside

See new Zimmerman web video to supporters
Will Zimmerman interview hurt defense?
It's Trayvon Martin's parents' turn

On April 20, weeks after the February 26 shooting and nine days after charges were issued, Lester set a $150,000 bond for Zimmerman. But the judge revoked that bond in June, after learning that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had misrepresented their financial situation during a court hearing, including failing to disclose more than $150,000 in donations from the public.

In his order last month, Lester said that the new $1 million bail order was not a punishment but an amount that assured the court that Zimmerman would not abscond.

In his ruling, Lester wrote about the first bond hearing and noted an undisclosed second passport kept in Zimmerman's safe deposit box.

"Notably, together with the passport, the money only had to be hidden for a short time for him to leave the country if the defendant made a quick decision to flee," the judge said. "It is entirely reasonable for this court to find that, but for the requirement that he be placed on electronic monitoring, the defendant and his wife would have fled the United States with at least $130,000 of other people's money."

Lester wrote that the defendant's plans to flee were "thwarted."

Days later, the defense team filed a motion in circuit court saying Zimmerman cannot get a fair trial because Lester used "gratuitous, disparaging" language in his second bail order.

Florida prosecutors mistakenly release confidential Zimmerman case documents

"Mr. Zimmerman has lost faith in the objectivity of this court and has a reasonable, well-founded fear that he will not receive a fair trial by this court," his lawyers said in the document.

Zimmerman's attorneys particularly took issue with two of the judge's comments: "Under any definition, the defendant has flouted the system," citing the definition of flout, and "The defendant has tried to manipulate the system when he has been presented the opportunity to do so."

The 28-year-old Zimmerman is free after posting the more recent $1 million bond. He's charged with second-degree murder in the death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black teen who was shot and killed while walking through Zimmerman's Sanford, Florida, neighborhood.

Zimmerman says he shot Martin in self-defense during a struggle, but prosecutors say he ignored a 911 dispatcher's advice not to follow the teen.

Zimmerman's wife pleads not guilty on perjury charge

CNN's Marylynn Ryan contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
George Zimmerman
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 0150 GMT (0950 HKT)
Let's get ready to ... mumble.
January 25, 2014 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
September 29, 2013 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
George Zimmerman's estranged wife said that while she respects the jury's not guilty verdict in his second-degree murder trial, she now has doubts about his innocence.
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
George Zimmerman's defense team says people should delve into the "substance" of other comments made by a juror who claimed the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1712 GMT (0112 HKT)
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 1952 GMT (0352 HKT)
Four days after he was acquitted of murder, George Zimmerman stepped out of seclusion to help a family.
July 28, 2013 -- Updated 1709 GMT (0109 HKT)
Florida law kept George Zimmerman from being held accountable in last year's shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen's mom said.
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 0210 GMT (1010 HKT)
Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."
July 20, 2013 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
The nation has a long history of self-defense laws. Almost every state allows some version of the "castle" defense, as in "a man's home is his castle."
July 18, 2013 -- Updated 0443 GMT (1243 HKT)
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN pushing for new laws.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had "no doubt" he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 1254 GMT (2054 HKT)
George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
July 17, 2013 -- Updated 0504 GMT (1304 HKT)
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with Zimmerman said she is upset at his acquittal on murder charges.
July 16, 2013 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
His trial's over. And now it turns out that George Zimmerman might need the same thing millions of Americans are looking for: a job.
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
An employee of the Florida State Attorney's Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman's defense team has been fired.
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
This might sound like a legal conundrum.
July 15, 2013 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
Suspected racism in the justice system, deep-seated, secretive and historic, was the crux of the case for millions, writes Tom Foreman.
March 30, 2012 -- Updated 1533 GMT (2333 HKT)
Just like most any other teenager, Trayvon Martin enjoyed listening to music and going to the movies, friends and family said.
July 2, 2013 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
With a single phrase, Rachel Jeantel, that friend of Trayvon Martin's, may have lit a fuse in the trial of his accused killer.
ADVERTISEMENT