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Florida Governor to announce gun law task force in wake of Trayvon Martin death

Posted at 7:54 AM, Apr 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-19 07:54:44-04


  • The task force will be led by Florida’s lieutenant governor
  • A bond hearing for George Zimmerman has been set for Friday
  • Judge Jessica Recksiedler approved a motion removing her from the case
  • The judge’s husband is a law partner of a CNN legal analyst

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) — Florida’s governor will announce Thursday morning who will be part of a task force that will look at the state’s gun laws in the aftermath of the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

In March, as outrage was growing about the shooting, Gov. Rick Scott said that Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll would lead the task force but he would also take time to choose some of the other members.

“After listening to many concerned citizens in recent days, I will call for a Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection to investigate how to make sure a tragedy such as this does not occur in the future,” Scott said at the time.

The task force will study Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows people to use deadly force anywhere they feel a reasonable threat of death or serious injury, Scott has said.

It is unknown how the law may ultimately factor into the defense case of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Martin on February 26. The 28-year-old has told authorities the killing was in self-defense.

The case has raised questions about just what Stand Your Ground allows, when it applies and whether it achieves its intended effect.

A member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Michael Yaki of San Francisco, said last week he will ask the agency to investigate such laws.

Also Thursday, Sanford, the city where the shooting took place, has scheduled a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. so members of the public can discuss the shooting, according to the Sanford mayor’s office.

The Trayvon Martin case has stirred civil rights activists nationwide and drawn intense publicity.

A bond hearing for Zimmerman is scheduled for Friday, and the new judge in the case, Kenneth Lester Jr., will preside over the hearing, court officials said.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Jessica Recksiedler approved a motion Wednesday to disqualify herself after it was revealed that her husband works with a CNN legal analyst who has commented on the case.

Recksiedler said in her decision that while the findings on each basis were “legally insufficient” for disqualification, “the cumulative effect of the events and the totality of the circumstances provides a legally sufficient basis for this court to grant the motion to disqualify,” a statement from the court said.

Wednesday’s order directed the case to be returned to the chief judge for reassignment, who in turn ordered that Lester be appointed to preside over the Zimmerman case.

Lester has served on the circuit court since 1996. He is assigned to the criminal division but has previously served in the juvenile, delinquency, dependency, probate, guardianship and mental health divisions of the court.

A 2011 poll by the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers rated Lester the top judge in the county in terms of legal knowledge and diligence. He had the second-highest overall score among Seminole County circuit judges in that survey, which also ranked the jurists for impartiality, freedom from bias and demeanor.

CNN’s Kelly Frank and Matt Smith contributed to this report.

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