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After scolding goes viral, Hillsborough judge removes herself from case involving USF Bulls player

Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor told USF defensive end LaDarrius Jackson that if the allegations of sexual battery and false imprisonment against a fellow student are true, Jackson's behavior was "nothing short of outrageous."
Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor told USF defensive end LaDarrius Jackson that if the allegations of sexual battery and false imprisonment against a fellow student are true, Jackson's behavior was "nothing short of outrageous."
Published May 4, 2017

TAMPA — The judge who ripped into a University of South Florida Bulls football player and then his coach in court this week has voluntarily taken herself off the case after video of the dressing-down went viral.

Hillsborough County Judge Margaret Taylor, who hears first appearance cases, told USF defensive end LaDarrius Jackson that if the allegations of sexual battery and false imprisonment against a fellow student are true, Jackson's behavior was "nothing short of outrageous."

The judge said she was "embarrassed and ashamed" to be a USF graduate. "Let's just say my USF diploma is not proudly hanging in my office right now," she told him.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Judge rips into USF's LaDarrius Jackson, coach Charlie Strong

The judge went on to chastise first-year Bulls coach Charlie Strong, who was not present, referencing another team member recently arrested in a road rage incident. She said it was "fairly clear" the coach didn't have control of his team and implored him to decide if the school was a good fit "before any other members of this community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players."

The videotaped hearing caught the attention of ESPN and USA Today, among others.

By Thursday morning, Judge Taylor issued an order voluntarily disqualifying herself from the case, citing a state judicial rule about a defendant fearing he won't get a fair hearing because of "prejudice or bias of the judge." Through her judicial assistant, she declined to comment Thursday morning.

Hillsborough Public Defender Julie Holt, whose office represents Jackson, said her attorneys had already prepared a motion to recuse the judge and revisit the bail amount had the judge not taken herself off the case. Judge Taylor set Jackson's bail at $102,500.

"In my opinion the bond is extremely high," Holt said. "It's a bond that this particular 22-year-old cannot make. It's like having no bond whatsoever set."

"Based on the facts we know at this time, we think an ROR (a release on his own recognizance) would be more appropriate, or a bond of $10,000 or $15,000," Holt said.

A new judge is expected to hear the bond issue as early as Friday. Holt said her office will agree to the condition that Jackson have no contact with the woman in the case.

Time staff writers Joey Knight and Tony Marrero contributed to this report. Sue Carlton can be reached at carlton@tampabay.com.

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