One day after Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards called for her resignation, District Judge Jessie LeBlanc submitted a letter announcing she’d be stepping down immediately. LeBlanc had been facing mounting pressure to resign after a local news station discovered that not only had she been having an affair with a chief deputy in her Parish, Bruce Prejean, but had used a string of racial slurs once the affair had been revealed.
In a letter to Chief Justice Bernette Johnson, LeBlanc wrote:
“It is with a heavy heart and profound regret that I formally tender my resignation as Judge, 23rd Judicial District Court. While I am not excusing my behavior in using a racially inappropriate word, I have and will continue to apologize for it.”
According to WAFB TV, LeBlanc used the n-word at least three times in a text exchange with Prejean in 2018 (both of whom are white).
LeBlanc used the word in a series of text messages in reference to a black law clerk and a black sheriff’s deputy, whom she also called a “thug.” LeBlanc told WAFB that in December 2018, she received an anonymous package that contained phone records with Prejean, including alleged calls with a law clerk for another judge in the district. She said she became “scared” and “anxious” about it, prompting the text messages.
LeBlanc has continuously denied that her use of racial slurs as recently as two years ago had any impact on her courtroom decisions, a line of argument she maintained in her resignation letter.
“I am proud of the work I did as a Judge and challenge anyone to look at my record, any and all cases I handled. I diligently worked to administer justice fairly, blindly, and without regard to any bias,” she wrote. LeBlanc then went on to detail instances when she uhmmm...did her job?
She cited one example where she found a black LSU football player not guilty of sexual battery of a white woman because “the evidence did not support guilt,” which is the sort of decision a judge shouldn’t get an anti-racism gold star over.
LeBlanc also attempted to throw Prejean under the bus—pointing out that he has had several affairs, including with this law clerk and a high-ranking official on the governor’s staff.
It eluded LeBlanc, perhaps, that in neither of those instances could the affair impact a judicial outcome. And in neither of those instances was it reported that a person used a slew of racial slurs in any context.
The fact that LeBlanc thought she could use a racial so casually, in reference to members of law enforcement who were her colleagues, and have it not bear any further impact on her judgment is actually as much a red flag as the words themselves.
“As a person, I know that I am not a racist. I know that I treat everyone with respect. It doesn’t matter who you are,” LeBlanc told WAFB earlier this month. “I was not raised to treat someone based upon the color of their skin. So, to those people, I tell them, yes, I made a horrible decision in using those slurs toward those people. I ask for forgiveness from them. I’ve asked for forgiveness from my God. And, I know that I am not a person that bases you off the color of your skin.”
Baton Rouge Branch of the NAACP President Eugene Collins told CNN Wednesday “an apology is not enough,” and questioned whether there were other instances in which she used the term:
“How many times has anyone stepped into your courtroom and you saw that word?”