The 2nd District Court of Appeals disqualified Judge William Burgess on Friday from presiding over the Emanuel Qosaj attempted murder trial that was scheduled to begin on Monday.

  • Motion filed last month to disqualify Burgess
  • Prosecutors believed they would not get a fair trial
  • Judge Joseph Bulone to preside over trial

“I think what the 2nd DCA is saying is that in this particular set of circumstances, judge, you’re not the right judge for this case at this time,” said Charles Rose, a law professor at Stetson University College of Law who is the director of the Center for Excellence in Advocacy. 

Pinellas State Attorney’s Office prosecutors asked the Florida Attorney General’s Office to file the motion last month to disqualify Burgess. Prosecutors believe the judge was acting “in concert” with defense attorney Roger Futerman and they wouldn’t get a fair trial. 

Rose told us it’s extremely rare for the State to try and get a judge removed from a criminal case.

“I’ve been in this part of the country for about 14-to-15 years now. I can’t remember another time when the State Attorney’s Office moved to remove a judge from a case,” he said. “What’s even more interesting in this particular case is the office that moved to request Judge Burgess’ removal is the office that he worked in before he became a judge.”

Futerman calls it a ridiculous accusation that the judge was favoring him and said prosecutors are just mad they didn’t get the trial date that they wanted.

“I don’t care which judge presides over the case,” he said. “It’s the jury who decides. I look forward to trying the case.” 

Futerman’s client is accused of strangling Linda Konior, who was 75-years-old at the time, with a dog leash and biting her face in Palm Harbor last year. Futerman said Qosaj is not guilty by reason of insanity.

Konior’s daughter, Michelle Hennessy, 46, said it didn’t seem like Burgess was treating everyone to the same standard.

“I am thrilled with the judicial system and the State Attorney’s Office for going after what they thought was right,” she said. “I want my mom treated fairly and she was starting to feel victimized again.” 

This is the second time the appeals court has removed Burgess from a criminal case. The first time was back in 2016, but that motion was filed by defense attorney Sean McQuaid, who said Burgess had “personal animosity” towards him.

Rose said the judge should be getting the message.

“I would expect to see some changes in behavior based upon the complaints that we’ve had to date. They seem to revolve around communications between the judge and counsel,” he said. “I would expect the complaints from counsel to continue unless the behavior changes.”

Burgess declined our request for an interview through a spokesperson. Judge Joseph Bulone will take over the Qosaj case.