George Zimmerman's attorneys file motion to disqualify judge

By Adam Longo and John W. Davis, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Saturday, July 14, 2012, 5:32 AM EDT

George Zimmerman's attorneys want to disqualify the judge who is presiding over his second-degree murder trial.

The motion filed Friday said Zimmerman "has a reasonable fear that he cannot get a fair trial or a fair stand your ground hearing by this court."

The motion specifically mentions the new bail Judge Kenneth Lester set for Zimmerman earlier this month. The motion said Lester made disparaging remarks about Zimmerman's character, said he should be "prosecuted for additional crimes," and is holding the threat of future contempt proceedings over Zimmerman's head.

The judge revoked Zimmerman's first $150,000 bond, and had him rearrested after he allegedly misled the court as to how much money he had available in a fund for his defense.

The motion also said the court is not weighing any evidence of Zimmerman's innocence in the case when determining bond, other than to say "the only issue is the viability of the defendant's self-defense/Stand Your Ground claim." However, they also accuse the judge of not discussing that issue either.

The motion also said:

"The court departed from its role as an impartial, objective minister of justice when it stated on two occasions in its order that in the court's personal opinion there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed a violation of Florida Statute 903.035(3), a third degree felony punishable by five years in prison. This is tantamount to instructing the state that Mr. Zimmerman should be prosecuted for this offense."

Zimmerman is on trial for second-degree murder in the Feb. 26 death of Trayvon Martin.

The State Attorney's Office issued the following statement Friday regarding this motion:

"The State objects to the Defendant trying to disqualify Judge Lester.  We will file a formal response to the Defendant’s Motion early next week."

Analyst: Judge may recuse himself

Legal analyst David Fussell thinks the Judge Lester may grant this motion.

“The question is whether Mr. Zimmerman feels like he can get a fair trial from this judge, and if they put all the language in there from the order the judge issued, he’ll probably grant the motion to recuse," Fussell explained.

The first judge assigned to the case, Jessica Recksiedler, stepped down in April 2012 because of a personal conflict of interest.

However, this time, the reason for Judge Lester stepping down would be because of a perceived personal bias and a perceived negative opinion of Zimmerman.

Zimmerman is currently out on bond as he faces second-degree murder charges for shooting and killing teen.

“He doesn’t want to try the case and have it reversed on appeal, and probably doesn’t want to take a lot of time and have this case go up to the appellate court now. I would suspect after he reads it, considers it and thinks it over, he’ll probably recuse himself," Fussell concluded.

Near the end of the 13-page motion, Zimmerman’s attorneys quoted legal precedence saying, “every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge," claiming Judge Kenneth Lester is not capable of being impartial anymore.

We reached out to the Florida Court System for Lester's reaction, and were told the judge is not allowed to comment on pending legal cases.

Fussell said we should expect a decision from Judge Lester early next week.