/  12.16.2021

A Louisiana judge has taken an unpaid leave of absence after a video emerged of her using the N-word to describe an alleged Black burglar.

Earlier this week, video footage surfaced showing Judge Michelle Odinet and her family watching a home video of a suspected car burglary in their driveway. “And mom’s yelling nigger, nigger,” a man’s voice said on the video. Then, a female voice — which has been identified as Odinet — said, “We have a nigger. It’s a nigger, like a roach.”

Following backlash from the footage, Odinet told local news outlets in Lafayette that she had “zero recollection” of it being filmed and was under the influence of a sedative at the time of the incident. “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives,” she said. “I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglary.”

As REVOLT previously reported, several groups have called for Odinet to resign, including one chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). On Monday (Nov. 13), Michael Toussaint, president of Lafayette’s NAACP chapter, demanded that the judge step down.

“Hate, in any form, cannot stand and must be condemned,” Toussaint said. “I have never met Judge Odinet, only heard her voice in campaign ads. But because she has confirmed that the video was in fact taken inside her home, one would think that as a sitting judge, a mother, a community leader, a person in position of authority, that she would have stepped up and taken a stand against that type of language in her own home.”

On Tuesday (Dec. 14), community organizers filed complaints against Odinet with the Louisiana Judiciary Commission. Additionally, several Lafayette law firms have asked the judge to recuse herself from their defendants’ cases because they believe their clients won’t be treated fairly.

Dane Ciolinio, Odinet’s lawyer, told The Acadiana Advocate that the judge feels “humiliated, embarrassed, and sorry” for the harm she caused the community.

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