Zimmerman Gets a New Judge

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Sep 6, 2012

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 George Zimmerman has been assigned a new trial court judge after successfully petitioning the Florida appeals court. Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot and killed 17 year old Trayvon Martin in a scuffle that shocked the nation, convinced the appeals court that he had a “reasonable fear” that Judge Kenneth Lester was biased against him and that Judge Lester’s bias might prevent him from receiving a fair and impartial trial in Lester’s court.

Zimmerman has experienced plenty of prejudice since the night of the deadly conflict on February 26, 2012. Allegations that the killing was racially motivated were amplified by misleading audio editing, which lead listeners to believe that Zimmerman had said to the 911 operator “This guy looks like he’s up to no good or he’s on drugs or something… He’s got his hand in his waistband, and he’s a black male.”

It was later revealed that Zimmerman’s statement had been edited so that the operator’s question, asking Zimmerman the race of the person he was reporting, was omitted.

Protests were staged all over the country criticizing Zimmerman for his perceived racism and for carrying a gun during his neighborhood watch. Zimmerman became a despised figure and a symbol of racial inequality and prejudice almost overnight.

Zimmerman’s original judge, Judge Lester, was another apparent detractor, a fact that Zimmerman’s defense team showed by pointing to language Lester used in a bail order criticizing Zimmerman for failing to declare money in his bail application. Lester stated in the bail order that Zimmerman had provided “false and misleading” information, a felony, and accused him of having “flouted the system” and trying to “manipulate the system” whenever Zimmerman had the opportunity.

Lester also increased Zimmerman’s bail to $1,000,000, and suggested that Zimmerman could be prosecuted for contempt in the future based on his actions.

The appeals court agreed that Mr. Zimmerman had a reason to be afraid that Judge Lester was biased against him, stating that Zimmerman had shown that his fear of prejudice by Judge Lester was reasonable under the circumstances.

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