Trayvon Martin Judge Reveals Possible Conflict of Interest
Florida Judge Jessica Recksiedler, who was assigned the Trayvon Martin shooting case, revealed a possible conflict of interest tied to her husband, a lawyer who works for a television legal analyst with ties to the defendant.
The judge asked defense lawyer Mark O’Mara to file any request that she step aside by next week so she can rule before an April 20 bond hearing. At that proceeding, O’Mara is set to ask that his client, George Zimmerman, be released on his own recognizance while he awaits trial on a murder charge.
Recksiedler’s husband works with Mark NeJame, a television analyst for CNN initially contacted by Zimmerman’s family in their search for a defense lawyer, the judge disclosed at the hearing in Sanford today. NeJame referred Zimmerman to O’Mara.
“It’s my understanding that Mr. Zimmerman had contacted Mark NeJame to represent him prior to you Mr. O’Mara,” the judge said at the hearing. “As I’ve disclosed previously, my husband works with Mark NeJame.” Her husband, Jason Jarrett Recksiedler, “does, however, practice only civil law. He’s never practiced criminal law and does not practice criminal law at this time,” she said.
O’Mara, who appeared along with state lawyers by teleconference, told the judge he was concerned about NeJame’s role as an analyst, and that NeJame had gotten Zimmerman’s family to sign an agreement allowing the analyst to disclose he had talked to them. O’Mara said he hadn’t seen the agreement.
“When Mr. NeJame decided to act as an analyst and not take on the case…he suggested that I might be a better choice,” O’Mara said. “He has a connection with the family that I haven’t understood yet.”
O’Mara later said that NeJame’s “role is going to be quite significant as an analyst and it is going to be more and more difficult I think, to maintain the proper separation.”
NeJame, the judge’s husband and Florida State Attorney Angela Corey didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the hearing.
Zimmerman, who claimed self-defense in the February shooting death of Martin, 17, is scheduled to be arraigned May 29 on a charge of second-degree murder.
Zimmerman, 28, was charged April 11. He appeared yesterday in an initial court appearance at a Sanford prison handcuffed and wearing a dark-colored jumpsuit. He said only “yes sir” to acknowledge to Judge Mark Herr his representation by O’Mara during the five-minute hearing.
The judge found sufficient evidence to support the murder charge, clearing the way to send the case to Recksiedler, a trial court judge. Zimmerman wasn’t present at today’s hearing.