A Louisiana judge has resigned over the fallout from a video of her using a racial slur repeatedly in her home. Her attorney notes that this will be the “end” of her professional career in “public service.”
Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet, who was heard saying the N-word on the video, issued a resignation statement through her attorney.
“After much reflection and prayer, and in order to facilitate healing within the community, I hereby resign as judge of the Lafayette City Court effective immediately,” the letter read in part. “I am sending a copy of this letter to the Secretary of State and hope that a special election can be scheduled to fill the vacancy that my resignation creates.”
Her attorney, Dane Ciolino, noted that his client was committed to righting her wrong to the people that she was elected to serve. He said, “Ms. Odinet understands that this is the end of her public service, but only the beginning of what she must to do to earn the forgiveness of the community.”
On Dec. 16, the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Odinet after an investigation. She has been replaced temporarily by former Opelousas Judge Vanessa Harris, which made the experienced jurist the first Black judge in Lafayette history.
The video was recorded last month in her home as a group was watching security camera footage of a burglary attempt at the residence. While none of the individuals are seen on the video, voices can be heard repeating the N-word multiple times. The judge’s representation confirmed her as one of the voices.
One male voice can be heard, “Mom’s yelling, n—–, n—-.”
“We have a n—-. It’s a n—-, like a roach,” a woman’s voice can be heard saying.
Gov. John Bel Edwards called for her resignation. He said, “I know that the judge has taken a period of unpaid leave to reflect on what her next move should be, and I believe she has all but acknowledged that the words uttered in that video were hers.”
“Quite frankly, there’s no place for that kind of language,” Edwards continued. “Especially among members of the judiciary who have the most important role in administering justice in our state.”
The judge said that she was regretful but takes full ownership of her actions.
“I take full responsibility for the hurtful words used to describe the individual who burglarized the vehicles at my home,” Odinet said in the letter. “I am sorry for the pain that I have caused my community and ask for your forgiveness, as my words did not foster the public’s confidence and integrity for the judiciary.”
Since the video was released, two Black defendants asked for Odinet to recuse herself from their cases because they believed she would show prejudice and bias “against African-Americans.”
Edwards suggested that this would happen consistently if she stayed on the bench, a seat she was elected to only a year ago. Other prominent politicians and organizations such as City Councilman Glenn Lazarde, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, and the Anti-Defamation League had called for her to resign also.
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