Lafayette Judge Suspended After Video Of Racial Slurs Surface
The job of Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet is in jeopardy after the video filmed at her house caught the judge and others referring to Black people as roaches and the N-word. This is a pretty big problem being that this judge presides of a variety of cases from traffic tickets to murder cases, in a city that is 30%, Black. A judge swears an oath or code of conduct, to be racially non-biased and uphold the Constitution in a fair and impartial manner.
USA Today reports, the judge was filmed at her home and could be heard using derogatory names as she reviewed a video of a 59-year old Black man trying to break into her home. The failed robbery was caught on the judge's surveillance cameras early Saturday morning. The man was arrested and charged with two counts of simple burglary in connection with the crime.
The video clip of the judge using racial slurs was reported on Monday, December 13 and it didn't take long for her to be reprimanded. By Friday, December 17, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered Judge Odinet come off the bench immediately citing she is “disqualified from exercising judicial functions, without salary, during the pendency of further proceedings in these matters.”
Apparently, there were multiple people talking in the video clip and she has admitted the footage was filmed at her house. The city court judge said in a statement she was traumatized after the armed burglary and doesn't remember anything, because she had taken a sedative. Problem is, Tuesday the Lafayette Police confirmed the suspect was not armed.
Judge Odinet said “I was given a sedative at the time of the video. I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it. Anyone who knows me and my husband knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives,” She added, “We ask for your understanding, forgiveness, patience, and prayers.”
Judge Odinet is a Republican and was elected to her seat in November 2020. She has apologized for what she said, despite calls for her to step down she has refused to resign. Calls for her resignation from local officials, community members including newly-elected Lafayette City Marshall Reggie Thomas who said, “I strongly believe Judge Odinet should be held accountable." Thomas continued, “I’m sure that people of color will find it impossible to trust that they will be treated fairly and equally when they have to stand for judgment before Judge Odinet. This type of language cannot be accepted or tolerated by anyone, especially those who serve as leaders in our city."
State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux released a statement on the incident and said Ordinet's comments were reprehensible and “I respectfully request and will officially petition that the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana investigate the ethical conduct and actions associated with the recent developments."