This past Friday, Louisiana judge, Michelle Odinet quietly exited the bench after a video that surfaced earlier this month displayed Odinet and people in her home using racial slurs.
The video that became public was surveillance footage of an altercation between an alleged burglary suspect and members of Odinet’s family. This surveillance footage was played on a television in Odinet’s home, and from this footage, viewers can both see the altercation and hear recurring racial slurs said by Odinet and others within her home. In the video that has been widely circulated, a male voice verbally states, “And Mom’s yelling n***er, n***er.” Shortly after the sounds of laughter and exuberant jest, a woman’s voice repeats the racial slur: “We have a n***er, it’s a n***er, like a roach,” while laughing. Odinet and those residing within her home continue laughing and analyzing the video, making note of the altercation with the alleged burglar.
A male voice says, “That’s my phone where it fell out.” A woman’s voice adds, “You should have taken his phone and stolen from, that f**king a**hole.” Another member of Odinet’s family asserts, “Go and get the gun. A male voice affirms, “it’s important, very important,” as the surveillance videos continues to play.
Upon the widespread circulation of the video, Odinet sent a statement to CNN affiliate KATC stating that she had been “given a sedative” and had no “recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it.” Odinet goes on to state, “My children and I were the victim of an armed burglary at our home. The police were called and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was so fragile. I was a wreck and am still unable to sleep. 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.”
*Cue the violins reserved for white women’s forced tears.
The judge also added: “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows that this is contrary to the way we live our lives. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglar. Odinet attempts to engender empathy, as if her property being burglarized justified her use of racial slurs. While Odinet assigns blame to the sedative she took, she fails to provide any explanation for the male voices that were heard on the video, presumed to be her children, using the same racist slurs that she chose.
The head of the Lafayette NAACP Chapter President, Michael Toussaint insisted that Odinet should step down: “We call now for her immediate and uncompromising resignation, failing same, we demand swift and immediate act by the Judiciary Committee of the Louisiana Supreme Court, removing her from office.”
The governor of Lousianna, John Bel Edwards also condemned Odinet’s behavior, calling for her to resign: “It would be my hope that this period of reflection that she’s going through will lead her to that same conclusion.”
Odinet’s resignation, the day before the New Year, came after weeks of deliberation about her behavior and the proper course of action. In her statement of resignation, Odinet writes, “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.” Upon Odinet’s resignation, New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams announced last week that his civil rights division will review all cases prosecuted by Odinet.