On Thursday (Dec. 16), the court signed an order suspending Judge Michelle Odinet as the investigation into the racist tape continues. Odinet recently requested a leave of absence without pay, however, the court stated that she is “disqualified from exercising judicial functions, without salary, during the pendency of further proceedings.”
As REVOLT previously reported, earlier this week, a video clip surfaced of 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 the judge — said, “We have a nigger. It’s a nigger, like a roach.”
Following backlash from the footage, Odinet told local news outlets that she had “zero recollection” of it being filmed and was under the influence of a sedative at the time of the incident. She also said she was “deeply sorry” and asked “for your forgiveness and understanding” as she and her family deals with the aftermath of the burglary.
Dane Ciolinio, Odinet’s lawyer, told The Acadiana Advocate that the judge feels “humiliated, embarrassed, and sorry” for the harm she caused the community.
Several people have called for the judge to resign, including Governor John Bel Edwards, who said, “And I don’t know that she’d have a valid basis for denying [those recusals]. I believe she should resign, I hope she comes to that conclusion for herself.”
Michael Toussaint, president of the Lafayette chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), demanded that the judge step down, saying, “Hate, in any form, cannot stand and must be condemned.”