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Louisiana Judge Who Claimed to Have ‘Zero Recollection’ of Racial Slur Video Resigns from Bench

Judge Michelle Odinet; and screenshot of the home footage.

Judge Michelle Odinet, and the footage of a family using the n-word while recounting a failed burglary.

A Louisiana judge has resigned from the Lafayette City Court, and admitted she was the one who used the N-word in video footage in which she and relatives narrated an alleged failed car burglary.

“I take full responsibility for the hurtful words I used to describe the individual who burglarized the vehicles at my home,” Michelle Odinet wrote in a letter dated Friday to Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice John L. Weimer. “I am sorry for the pain that I have caused my community and ask for your forgiveness, as my words did not foster the public’s confidence and integrity for the judiciary.”

The video in question appeared to be a cell phone recording of a television set on a small entertainment center. Playing on the television is what in turn appeared to be a nighttime surveillance recording of the botched alleged burglary.

“And mom’s yelling, ‘N****r! N****r!’” a young man said in the footage while apparently describing and narrating the underlying incident.

“We have N****r!” a woman’s voice then said off camera while laughing and recounting the occurrence. “It’s a N****r! Like a roach.”

No one speaking appears in the footage. Ronald Handy, 59, who is Black, was arrested and charged with two counts of simple burglary in connection with the incident.

Odinet faced calls for her resignation, as it was believed she was the woman speaking. In an initial statement, she said she did not remember the video at all but claimed she had taken a sedative.

“The police were called and the assailant was arrested,” she said at the time. “The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was 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. 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.”

Nonetheless, Odinet soon took a leave of absence from the bench to “consider what’s best for her and her community in the long term.” Odinet, a Republican, won the elected judgeship in November of 2020, winning 57-percent of the vote over her opponent, who ran with no party affiliation.

Now she is stepping down from office altogether.

“After much reflection and prayer, and in order to facilitate healing within the community, I hereby resign as judge of Lafayette City Court effective immediately,” Odinet wrote Friday.

“Ms. Odinet understands that this resignation ends her public service,” Odinet attorney Dane S. Ciolino told Law&Crime in a statement. “But it is only the beginning of her work to earn the community’s forgiveness.”

[Image of Judge Michelle Odinet via Lafayette City Court; home footage via The Current]

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