La. Supreme Court appoints first African American judge, Southern alum to Lafayette City Court

Judge Vanessa Harris
Judge Vanessa Harris(Louisiana Supreme Court)
Published: Dec. 18, 2021 at 8:43 AM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WAFB) - The Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed Judge Vanessa Harris as judge pro tempore of Lafayette City Court to replace suspended Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet.

As alumna of Southern University and the Southern University Law Center, Judge Harris has become the first African American judge ever appointed to Lafayette City Court.

The retired Opelousas City Court Judge will serve as judge pro tempore from December 17, 2021 through February 28, 2022, subject to the completion of any unfinished business.

RELATED: Fallout continues for Lafayette judge that was caught on video using racist slur

The Louisiana Supreme Court temporarily suspended Michelle Odinet, without pay, after a video surfaced of Odinet using a racial slur.

Retired Judge Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Southern University in 1985 and her juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center in 1988.

She began her career practicing with the Harris & Harris Law Firm in 1988 and served as an assistant district attorney in St. Landry Parish from 1988-2008.

According to the Supreme Court, Judge Harris made history in 2009 when she was elected Opelousas City Court Judge, becoming the first female and African American to serve on that bench.

The Washington, La. native served as judge of Opelousas City Court until she retired in December 2020.

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