Public Officials Want Judge Odinet to Be Held Accountable
UPDATE, 5 p. m.: Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory is condemning the comments made in a video filmed in the home of city judge Michelle Odinet.
Guillory’s full statement reads as follows:
I am disgusted and appalled by the recent reports involving a local judge. This type of language is hurtful, divisive, and unacceptable. The fairness and objectivity of our courts are the foundation of our legal system. It is my hope that the judge will do what is best to help the community heal and move forward.
ORIGINAL STORY, 1 p. m.
Two elected Lafayette officials and a former holder of public office are calling for consequences for city judge Michelle Odinet.
This comes after a video in which two people used racist language while watching surveillance video at Odinet's home became public. In that video, a young male, believed to be Odinet's son, quotes his mother as using a racial slur to refer to the burglary suspect. A woman, believed to be Odinet, repeats the slur.
Here's the video--unedited and in its entirety. Please note that it does contain offensive language.
On Monday night, Odinet confirmed to the Current that the video was recorded inside her home, but she did not identify who uttered the slur. In a statement released to several media outlets, Odinet apologized.
"I was given a sedative at the time of the video," Odinet said. "I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it. Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows 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 burglary."
Local politicians are calling for action from either Odinet or the Louisiana Supreme Court.
State Rep. Vincent Pierre (D-Lafayette) called for Odinet to resign from office. Pierre says the video proves Odinet cannot be impartial to Black parties who go before her court.
Former Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux echoed Pierre's call for Odinet to resign.
Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas called for Judge Odinet to "be held accountable," though he didn't say by whom.
"Before I was elected the first African American to a citywide seat in the City of Lafayette, I was a proud Black man," Thomas wrote in a statement. "Even at this mature stage of my life, this language still hurts me to my core. I am certain that most people of color share my pain when the N-word is used to describe us. With that being said, I’m sure that people of color will find it impossible to trust that they will be treated fairly and equally when they have to stand for judgment before Judge Odinet. This type of language cannot be accepted or tolerated by anyone, especially those who serve as leaders in our city.
I understand that a burglary (had) taken place, and that’s a strenuous circumstance," Thomas continued. "Nonetheless, it is during tough situations that our character is revealed. The usage of the N-word to describe any individual is not only deplorable, it is revealing of racial prejudice, let alone from such an high representative of our judicial system.
"As a proud Black man, and the Lafayette City Marshal, I strongly believe Judge Odinet should be held accountable. It is up to Judge Odinet to remember the oath she took, and should she remain on the bench, find a way to gain back the trust of “all” of Lafayette, especially African Americans. A mere ineffectual and weak apology will not suffice."
Odinet has remained silent since releasing her statement Monday night. We'll continue to follow the story.