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Louisiana Supreme Court suspends Lafayette judge for racist remarks

By: - December 17, 2021 4:41 pm
Louisiana Supreme Court suspends Lafayette judge accused of racial remarks

The Louisiana Supreme Court Building on Royal Street in New Orleans, Dec. 7, 2021. (WES MULLER/LOUISIANA ILLUMINATOR)

The Louisiana Supreme Court announced Friday it has suspended Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet from serving on the bench as it investigates a recording in which she uses the n-word.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, Odinet is “disqualified from exercising judicial functions, without salary, during the pendency of further proceedings in these matters.” 

One of the seven justices, Justice Jefferson Hughes (R-Denham Springs), dissented from the majority ruling, writing: “While I condemn the language reported in the media, at this point all we have are media reports. I would like to see some hard facts as to who said what and when. This situation did not happen in a vacuum.”

Earlier this week, Odinet, a Republican, requested a leave of absence from the bench after multiple officials and organizations called for her resignation. Among them were Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and the National Bar Association. 

The video was shot over the weekend after a failed burglary attempt of a car outside Odinet’s home. It does not show Odinet, but the judge and one of her children can be heard off-camera using the n-word repeatedly while reviewing security footage of the burglary attempt. Through an attorney, Odinet has confirmed to media outlets that one of the voices screaming racist epithets is her own.

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Wes Muller
Wes Muller

Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the years since then, he has freelanced for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans and worked on staff at the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. He also taught English as an adjunct instructor at Baton Rouge Community College. Much of his journalism has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and coverage of municipal and state government. He has received recognitions including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus and a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his two sons and his wife, who is also a journalist.

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