Judge In George Zimmerman Case Reveals Conflict, May Step Down
We’d say get used to this lady’s face but it turns out she may not be sticking around for long after all.
Cable TV and courtroom ethics collided in the Trayvon Martin case Friday when the judge suddenly announced that she has a conflict of interest that might force her to step down.
Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler said her husband’s legal partner, Mark NeJame, has been hired by CNN to do the legal analysis on the controversial case.
Recksiedler, who has been on the bench for barely a year, dropped that bomb at what had initially been billed as a surprise bail hearing for accused killer George Zimmerman.
“I’m very very concerned that this is going to be problematic moving forward,” Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara said on a conference call.
“If you choose to file a motion to disqualify me as judge it has to be in writing,” Recksiedler responded.
So far neither O’Mara nor prosecutors have moved to disqualify her.
Recksiedler, 39, of Sanford, Fla., was assigned to the case on Thursday morning. Her husband, Jason, works with NeJame, an Orlando lawyer who is now on CNN’s payroll.
Recksiedler said it was important to disclose the relationship before the case goes forward.
Zimmerman, who was charged with second-degree murder on Thursday, was not privy to the conference call.
NeJame and O’Mara are also connected — both did legal commentary during the sensational Casey Anthony trial.
Also, NeJame reportedly recommended O’Mara to Zimmerman, when he was looking for a defense attorney.
The courtroom chaos came a day after the 28-year-old neighborhood watchman made his first court appearance for killing the unarmed black teenager.
Zimmerman spent the night alone in a jail cell — isolated from other prisoners for his own protection, and comforted only by a stash of junk food.
O’Mara, who is trying to get him released on bail before his formal arraignment on May 29, told National Public Radio he doesn’t expect the case to go to trial this year.
“It would be guesswork,” O’Mara said. “But, most cases like this, I cannot imagine it going to trial within the year.”
O’Mara also said he doesn’t think Zimmerman could get a fair trial right now — and certainly not in Seminole County, Fla.
“You know, the wounds are still quite raw,” he said. “And part of it is, I would like to give the community some time, to begin to build back up its trust in the criminal justice process.”
Asked if he would request a change of venue at Zimmerman’s arraignment, O’Mara said “I have no idea.”
“It’s much too early,” he said. “That process really should occur only when you’re getting close to trial.”
O’Mara, who is representing Zimmerman pro bono, said he got his wife’s okay before he accepted the job.
“Because, obviously, it’s a fairly enormous undertaking,” he said.
The fact that Zimmerman wasn’t immediately arrested for killing 17-year-old Martin caused a nationwide uproar — especially after 911 tapes revealed he continued to tail the teenager even after a dispatcher told him, “We don’t need you to do that.”
Asked to explain why Zimmerman disregarded the dispatcher, O’Mara said he has yet to discuss that with his client.
But O’Mara added that Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground Law, which Zimmerman invoked to claim self-defense in the shooting, will certainly be part of their legal strategy.
Zimmerman was arrested Wednesday — 45 days after Sanford, Fla. police and prosecutors refused to charge him with murdering Martin.
Is everyone in Florida cousins or something? Sure seems like George Zimmerman has a lot of connections. We don’t know if we would want her ruling the case if we were the prosecution, what with her hubby’s partner making recommendations for Zimmerman’s defense and all. SMH.