La. Judge Resigns Over Her 'Hurtful Words'

Michelle Odinet had been caught on video saying n-word, comparing Black people to roaches
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2021 10:15 AM CST
Updated Jan 1, 2022 6:30 AM CST

Update: A Louisiana judge caught on video saying the n-word has resigned. Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet had already taken an unpaid leave of absence after the clip of her using the racial slur—recorded as she watched surveillance footage of an attempted burglary outside her home—circulated online last month. Now, she's stepping down for good, reports CNN. "I take full responsibility for the hurtful words I used to describe the individual who burglarized the vehicles at my home," Odinet wrote in a letter dated Friday to the Louisiana Supreme Court's chief justice, adding she was resigning "after much reflection and prayer." She asked for forgiveness, adding, "I am sorry for the pain that I have caused my community." Per the New York Times, her lawyer conceded on Friday it would've been impossible for her to continue as a judge, noting, "There was never going to be a situation where African Americans would appear before her and not file motions to recuse." Our original story from Dec. 16 follows:

A Louisiana judge will take a leave of absence without pay after using a racial slur in a video widely shared on social media. The video shows a TV set on which plays security footage showing at least two people capturing and holding another person during an attempted burglary at the home of Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet early Saturday, per CBS News. Off camera, viewers comment on what they're seeing. "That's me," one person says. "And Mom's yelling 'n---, n---.'" Another person adds, "We have a n-----. It's a n-----, like a roach." Odinet had written on Facebook about attempted burglaries in her neighborhood. She also told attorneys about leaving money in her vehicle as a trap, reports the Acadiana Advocate.

Odinet's lawyer, Dane Ciolino, confirmed Wednesday that his client had used a racial slur in the video, per CBS, though Odinet initially told KLFY that she had no recollection of the video taken in her home or "the disturbing language used" as "I was given a sedative at the time." "Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives," she noted at the time. She also said she and her children had been victims of an armed robbery, which "shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile." However, police said no weapon was found on the suspect, a Black man identified as Ronald Handy, 59, who is charged with two counts of simple burglary and held in Lafayette Parish Jail.

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She feels "humiliated, embarrassed, and sorry for what she has done and the harm she has caused to the community" and will now take a leave of absence, Ciolino told the Advocate on Wednesday. "What happens in the long term is something she is going to think about in the weeks to come." Local leaders have been calling for her to resign. If she doesn't, "we request that the Louisiana Judiciary Commission immediately appoint an ad hoc judge to hear cases in her division, investigate this incident and ultimately remove her," said the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus. One law firm has already asked the judge to recuse herself from its defendants' cases. (More racial slurs stories.)

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