Florida judge in Trayvon Martin case to decide on recusal

ORLANDO, Florida Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:21pm EDT

George Zimmerman (L) stands with his attorney Mark O'Mara (R) as he makes his first appearance on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in courtroom J2 at the Seminole County Correctional Facility in Sanford, April 12, 2012. REUTERS/Gary W. Green/Pool

George Zimmerman (L) stands with his attorney Mark O'Mara (R) as he makes his first appearance on second degree murder charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in courtroom J2 at the Seminole County Correctional Facility in Sanford, April 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Gary W. Green/Pool

Related Topics

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - A Florida judge will decide this week whether to step down from the second-degree murder trial of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer charged in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler disclosed last week that her husband's law partner previously had been contacted by Zimmerman seeking representation. Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, on Monday filed a motion asking Recksiedler to recuse herself.

Recksiedler is on temporary assignment from the Florida Supreme Court, hearing oral arguments at the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, Florida. She will issue a written order by Friday on the recusal motion, according to a court news release issued on Tuesday.

A bond hearing is set for Zimmerman on Friday. The court spokesman was unavailable to comment on Tuesday on whether that hearing would go forward as scheduled if another judge takes over the case.

In what the court spokesman previously acknowledged was an unusual decision, a different judge at Zimmerman's first appearance on Thursday sealed all court records filed in the case after that date.

Martin was killed February 26 after he went to a convenience store to buy snacks before watching the NBA All-Star game on television.

As he walked through a gated residential community where he was staying with his father and father's fiancee, Martin, a black teen, was spotted by Zimmerman, a white Hispanic. Prosecutors allege Zimmerman profiled Martin, disregarded police instructions, confronted and then killed Martin with a single gunshot to the chest.

Zimmerman has claimed self-defense in the shooting in the central Florida town of Sanford. Police initially failed to arrest him or charge him with any crime because Florida's so-called "Stand Your Ground" law allows individuals who feel threatened in a public place to use lethal force in self-defense.

(Editing By Tom Brown and Eric Walsh)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (9)
Bucky_2 wrote:
Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney’s office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn’t enough evidence to lead to a conviction.

Was Wolfinger doing a favor for a retired judge? The blog Hinterland Gazette believes that may be the case.

It should be noted that George Zimmerman may have received favorable treatment from the police because of his family. According to court records, his father is retired Supreme Court Magistrate Judge Robert Zimmerman and his mother Gladys Zimmerman was a court clerk. Connections in the legal community run deep and go far.

According to a records search on George, he was previously arrested for domestic violence, resisting an officer without violence and most shockingly, resisting an officer with violence — a felony charge that surely could have landed him in prison.

All three of those arrests, however, were mysteriously closed with no semblance of charges for the Florida resident. So how was someone with a violent past including that of battery against an officer able to carry a 9 mm handgun? Maybe that’s a question, George’s father, Robert Zimmerman should answer.

Apr 17, 2012 4:55pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
yardbird wrote:
Robert Z was not a Florida supreme court magistrate. Per ABC he was a Virginia magistrate. (justice of the peace.)

Apr 17, 2012 5:05pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Sol_ wrote:
Bucky, I agree to some extent. I’ve witnessed people get themselves into sticky situations that called for them to pull “strings” to get out the mess. How powerful these strings are varies, but everyone will do whatever it takes to help themselves or their children. I realize you cant pull the phone records of Wolfinger or R. Zimmerman very easily if ever, but I’m curious as to what they will show.

I’m not an attorney, but I believe the characters of both Trayvon and George will come into better view. Who is the most prone to violence?

Apr 17, 2012 5:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.