A Black Louisiana judge who criticized the work of prosecutors as racially biased is now being targeted with a complaint of bias herself.
Judge Lori Landry, of the 16th Judicial District Court, reprimanded prosecutors for a high rate of incarceration for Black Louisianans and as a result, is being asked to recuse herself from more than 300 criminal cases, according to the Shreveport Times.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Vines, who is white, filed a 27-page motion, arguing Landry should be removed from the cases in question because she is “is biased or prejudiced against this office such that she cannot be fair or impartial,” the newspaper reported.
The 16th judicial district covers the majority-white parishes of St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary, which also are about 30 percent Black, according to U.S. Census figures.
Vines accused Landry in 36 separate incidents in which he said the judge accused prosecutors of “trickery,” having improper motivations and incarcerating Black people more severely and at a higher rate than others.
He said in the recusal motion The Daily Iberian obtained that Landry “engaged in abusive, inappropriate and/or bullying behavior” toward prosecutors, staff of the district attorney’s office, victims and witnesses.
In one allegation, prosecutors said Landry threatened to stick a pen in the eardrum of a prosecutor and a defense attorney, according to the Shreveport Times.
When asked why, Landry allegedly said:
“Because, girl, it hurts, but it doesn’t kill you. It makes you suffer. See what I’m saying?”
Landry reportedly responded to the recusal motion, which is part of several, last month during a hearing, according to the newspaper.
“This is a violation of the constitutional rights of the people who elected me,” she said.
Landry, a former prosecutor herself, was the first Black woman to serve in the assistant district attorney role for the 16th Judicial District Court, according to a court bio for her.
The role predated her time as a judge, a position she was elected to serve in Nov. 5, 2002.
Some of the recusal motions are set to be heard Wednesday, local newspapers reported.
Several community members have spoken out on social media to support Landry, including Robby Carrier-Bethel, the community liaison for the West End Council of Neighborhood Associations.
She created several posts urging support for the judge on Facebook.
“We know of the trickery and injustice that is happening in the 16th JDC with this very targeted, bullying, and racist tactic to have Judge Landry removed from hearing all criminal cases in the 16th JDC because she does not want to play jump rope or be friends with the DA Office,” Carrier-Bethel said on Facebook Oct. 22. “Judge Landry is honorable, and a woman of God that has brought compassion, Integrity and judicial fairness with her to the bench [something all of them should have].”
Nearly 100 people rallied to support the judge on the steps of the Iberia Parish Courthouse earlier this month, KLFY reported.
Khadijah Rashad, who helped organize the protest, told the news station, said he thinks Landry is being targeted because the district attorney didn’t get his way.
“It’s despicable that just because the district attorney’s office can’t get their way that they’re going to decide, ‘Well we want you to be removed.’ Like he has that much power,” Rashad said.