Louisiana Judge Michelle Odinet resigns after using racist slur

December 31, 2021
Michelle Odinet
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LAFAYETTE, La. — A Louisiana judge has submitted her resignation to the Louisiana Supreme Court after she was heard using racial slurs on a video, her attorney confirmed.

In her letter to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which was provided by her attorney, Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet said she takes “full responsibility for the hurtful words” used in the video.

“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 said. “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.”

On Dec. 16, Odinet took unpaid leave, and the Louisiana Supreme Court suspended Odinet the same day. The court appointed an ad hoc judge, Retired Opelousas City Court Judge Vanessa Harris to preside over Odinet’s cases while she was suspended.

Odinet faced several calls to resign after multiple people were recorded using a racist slur in a video, which the judge confirmed was taken at her home following a failed burglary attempt earlier this month.

In a statement, Odinet’s attorney, Dane Ciolino 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.

The video does not show any of the speakers heard during the clip, but multiple voices repeatedly use a racial slur while watching footage of the attempted burglary. Odinet’s attorney confirmed that Odinet used the language heard in the video.

PREVIOUSLY:Racist slurs heard in video at Louisiana judge’s home, calls for resignation intensify

In a statement to The Lafayette Daily Advertiser, part of the USA TODAY Network, after the video surfaced, Odinet said her family was the victim of armed burglary, but a spokesperson for the Lafayette Police Department said there was no indication that the suspect had a weapon.

Odinet, who was elected to the bench just over a year ago, said she had taken a sedative when the clip was filmed and does not remember the racist language captured in the video.

“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.”

Several state and local officials, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and City Councilman Glenn Lazard called on Odinet to resign, as did organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the Anti Defamation League.

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