Fallout continues for Lafayette judge that was caught on video using racist slur
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The fallout continues for a Lafayette judge caught on video using racist and disparaging language.
On Friday, the Louisiana Supreme Court temporarily suspended Michelle Odinet without pay while it further investigates the allegations against her.
The court said that Judge Odinet is “disqualified from exercising judicial functions, without salary, during the pendency of further proceedings in these matters.”
This comes one day after Gov. John Bel Edwards called on her to resign. One Baton Rouge attorney described the footage as ‘disgusting’ and ‘unacceptable’.
“This is a person that’s supposed to come to judgment in a fair and impartial manner. That’s the system we have in our society. It’s pretty painfully clear that this person is not capable of having a fair and impartial judgement of anyone that doesn’t look like her,” said Jarrett Ambeau from The Ambeau Law Firm.
The video in question catches Odinet laughing, and using the N-word to describe a man that tried to break in her home. You can also hear Odinet compare the man to a cockroach.
“You have to have a set of beliefs consistent with that in order to say those things. She thought she was safe in that environment in expressing how she feels. She didn’t know someone was videoing it. She didn’t know it would become public,” said Ambeau.
The Supreme Court appointed Lafayette’s first Black city judge in her place pending the investigation.
Ambeau said he’s never seen the Supreme Court move this quick to make this type of decision.
“I think that the Supreme Court’s quick action here is indicative of just how fantastically shocking her behavior was frankly,” said Ambeau.
Ambeau believes Odinet will either resign, or eventually be removed, which involves a lengthy and complex process.
“I don’t think there’s any question that she’s going to be removed in a judicial proceeding,” said Ambeau.
Ambeau said a big concern is the blowback that could come from any Black person she may have sentenced in the past.
“How can a person before her, comes before her and think I’ve gotten a fair shake,” asked Ambeau.
He said this could qualify as new evidence for another judge to reopen a case.
“If there could be an examination of her sentences, and is there a meaningful disparity between her sentencing of black people and white people? Is there a meaningful disparity between her sentencing of brown people? You know, people of Spanish and Mexican decent. Can you go look at that, and see? If so, that becomes a massive problem. A massive problem,” said Ambeau.
Ambeau said this video is proof that we still have a lot of work to do in society.
“The public should not take this as an indication of the way judges are, but the fact that we still have these issues we should be on the lookout for them. We should be on the lookout for people who behave in this manner for sure,” said Ambeau.
Odinet’s son who is also believed to be in the video was removed from the LSU Track & Field Team this week. While they did not address his removal directly, the team posted a statement on Facebook saying in part, “We will never tolerate racism.”
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