Judge on Dorworth case removes himself after 9 Investigates report



ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A judge has removed himself from a former state representative's case after 9 Investigates looked into the connection between them.

Chris Dorworth is a former state representative, turned lobbyist. He pleaded not guilty to violating the state's open meeting law after he was accused of plotting an illegal takeover of the then-Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority.

Judge Wilfredo Martinez was expected to hear motions in Dorworth's case Friday, but instead has removed himself from the case.

Channel 9 found out Dorworth helped get Martinez to the Circuit Court bench in November 2010.

Sources told reporter Shannon Butler that people from the legal community asked Dorworth to put in a good word for Martinez when he was being nominated for the Ninth Judicial Circuit Court after Judge Cynthia MacKinnon retired.

Dorwoth's attorney, Richard Hornsby, said he asked his client about Butler's information and said that it was true. Hornsby went on to say that all Dorworth did was contact the then-Gov. Charlie Crist's chief of staff and expressed his support.

Dorworth would not talk to Butler about the story.

"It should be noted that Mr. Dorworth does not know Judge Martinez personally and expressed his support for Judge Martinez based on the recommendation of the members of the legal community who approached him," said Hornsby.

Channel 9's legal analyst Bill Schaeffer said that recommendation by Dorworth should be enough for the judge to hand the case over to someone else.

"To avoid the appearance of impropriety, and to protect the public perception of the judicial system, Judge Martinez should step down form this case," said Sheaffer.

Martinez officially recused himself from Dorworth's case on Tuesday.