18th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson has been assigned to the George Zimmerman second-degree murder case.
Nelson steps into the highly controversial case a day after the fifth district court of appeals ruled in favor of Zimmerman, granting the removal of Judge Kenneth J. Lester.
Zimmerman's lawyers contend that Lester was biased against Zimmerman, whom he called a "manipulator" of the law.
As for Nelson, she has been practicing law for over 30 years, beginning in 1979. She is known in Florida as a no-nonsense judge and seeks maximum punishments in many cases.
According to Fl Courts:
University of South Florida - B.A. Psychology 1975 South Texas College of Law - J.D. 1979
-Admitted to the Florida Bar, 1979
- Admitted to the Texas Bar, 1979
- Admitted to the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, 1981
- Admitted to the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, 1981
- Admitted to the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, 1985
- Admitted to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, 1985
Our friends over at the Orlando Sentinel describes Nelson as a tough as nails judge on the bench but a chatty friendly person off.
Nelson grew up in Miami Beach, graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in psychology and went to what is now the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Southern Texas Collegein Houston.
Before law school, she worked for a year as a substitute school teacher.
She is a fan of "American Idol," loves to bake and has a John Lennon poster on her office wall.
She and her husband, an engineer, live in Sanford.
She has twice applied for an open spot on the Florida Supreme Court, in 2002 and 2008 but failed to make the short list.
In an annual poll by the Central Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Nelson this year received middling marks, an overall rating of 3.67, between 4, which is "good", and 3, which is "satisfactory".
It looks like Zimmerman got his wish for a new judge after begging for Judge Lester to step aside.