Judge Sorry for Calling Man a Sexual Predator in Court - Legal Grounds
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Judge Sorry for Calling Man a Sexual Predator in Court

A Florida judge apologized and has offered to recuse himself from a case, after he insultingly called a man a "sexual predator" -- in traffic court.

Courtroom video shows Seminole County Judge Carmine Bravo revving up to berate the man, who was charged with driving without a license.

The judge apologized days later, driven by TV news reports that added fuel to the controversy.

"I'm embarrassed by how it sounds," Bravo told Orlando's WFTV. "I owe them big time in terms of an apology."

Bravo knew the defendant, Rodrakus Hooks, from Hooks' prior appearances before the bench. Hooks had been sentenced more than a dozen times, mostly for drug possession.

So when Hooks appeared again before Bravo and asked for leniency -- "I got a baby mama back there [and] a baby fixing to be born," he told the judge -- Bravo pulled out all the stops.

"You ain't got a baby. You're just a sexual predator with a younger girl," Bravo said. Hooks, 33, has never been charged with a sex crime.

"I'm going to tell you straight up, man-to-man," the judge continued. "You and I know each other. We've been around. If you're not married to the mother, she's having a baby -- you're just someone she likes to visit."

Riding shotgun with the judge's belated apology was an offer to recuse himself, so another judge can hear Hooks' case. Judicial ethics rules generally require that maneuver when a judge's fairness is in question.

The videotaped incident may be especially embarrassing for the smart-mouthed judge. Apology aside, Judge Bravo has chaired the county court's Video and Related Technologies Committee, according to his website. He also works as a trainer for other judges.

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