Assistant public defender wants Osceola judge disqualified

Motion comes after judge accused suspect of faking incompetence


OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Assistant Public Defender Sarah Jordan is the latest to file a motion to have Osceola Judge Carol Draper disqualified from a case.

"The judge assisted the state with the pursuit of felony charges," Jordan wrote in court documents.

Jordan represents a man charged with criminal mischief and possession of marijuana. In a court hearing, Draper accused the man of "malingering," basically faking his incompetency, according to Jordan.

Draper's actions left "the defendant in fear of not receiving a fair and impartial trial," Jordan wrote in the motion to have the judge disqualified.

News 6 legal analyst Steven Kramer says seeking to have a judge disqualified is rare.

"Generally attorneys are reluctant to file these types of motions," he said. 

Earlier this month, News 6 reported on the Orange Osceola State Attorney's Office trying to have Draper removed from domestic violence cases.

Tansyla Nicholson's case is one of three cases prosecutors cited in an effort to have Draper removed.

"She has absolutely failed me and my family and my children," Nicholson said.

A jury found Nicholson's ex-husband guilty of battering her, but Draper withheld adjudication because she thought Nicholson had "serious credibility issues" when on the stand.

"I firmly believe she can no longer sit as a fair and impartial judge on matters involving domestic violence cases," one prosecutor wrote in a court filing.

Kramer said it could be a challenge for the state.

"We don't want to give litigants the ability to judge shop, so there is a preference to avoid disqualifying judges," he said.

An appellate panel will decide if Draper should be removed from the cases. News 6 contacted Draper for a comment but she declined.

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