George Zimmerman, accused in the murder of Trayvon Martin a year ago, is seeking a postponement of his hearing on his Stand Your Ground defense known as a self defense immunity hearing set in April. If Zimmerman prevails at his hearing on immunity, he would not face a trial.
Previously, the defense attorney, Mark O’Mara requested a delay of the trial scheduled for June 10 which Judge Debra Nelson denied. Now, if at first you don’t succeed, try again approach has the defense requesting a postponement of the Stand Your Ground hearing. The judge has indicted that she would be willing to move the hearing to the same day as the start of the trial—which is not out of the ordinary. But she seems to indicate that it would take almost an act of God for her to otherwise delay the hearing. Judge Nelson stated it “would take extreme circumstances for her to grant a continuance for the self-defense immunity hearing.” Mark O’Mara will have another bite at the apple to argue for a continuance of the hearing set for April next week.
Judge Nelson is moving ahead with requesting a potential jury pool of 500 persons for the trial set for June 10. Due to the high profile nature of the case, in order to select 12 impartial jurors and jury alternates, it will take an overwhelming number of potential jurors to be questioned. The web site of George Zimmerman’s lawyer posting comments and court documents will further delay the jury selection process. Jurors are generally asked if they have a bias one way or the other towards the case. And those who are sympathetic to Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman and cannot render a verdict based solely on the evidence will be excluded.
Two weeks have been set for the trial but the jury process could lengthen that estimate. Judge Debra Nelson is the third judge assigned to the case. She appears to take a no nonsense approach to the court proceedings. The first judge, Judge Jessica Reckseidler was asked to be removed by the defense due to a potential conflict involving her husband, a broadcast legal analyst. The second one, judge Kenneth Lester, was removed by the Court of Appeals decision after bias comments made by him on Zimmerman’s character in hiding evidence of funds available for bail during the bail hearing.
The current judge, Debra Nelson is an experienced trial judge with 13 years of experience as a Circuit Court judge. Judge Nelson previously served as a prosecutor in the Broward County State’s Attorney’s office. Prior to being appointed a judge, she maintained her own private practice in Orlando, Florida on a variety of litigation matters. Maybe Judge Debra Nelson, the third judge, will be the charm for the trial. I doubt if Mark O’Mara will be able to get her removed.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines, founder of LegalSpeaks is a trial lawyer and former prosecutor who addresses issues on race and gender in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national, international and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, local NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV and XM Sirius radio. Her works have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Washington Times, and NPR, among others. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post.