Posted on January 3, 2022

Louisiana Judge Who Used Racial Slur in Video Resigns

Vimal Patel, New York Times, January 1, 2022

A Louisiana judge who could be heard on a video using a racial slur while watching security footage of a foiled burglary outside her home has resigned, according to her lawyer and a letter from the judge.

“I take full responsibility for the hurtful words I used to describe the individual who burglarized the vehicles at my home,” the judge, Michelle Odinet, of the City Court of Lafayette, La., wrote in a letter dated Friday to the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court.


In the video, people off camera inside the judge’s home can be heard using a racial slur repeatedly and laughing as they narrate security-camera footage of a person trying to break into a car on Dec. 11.

The word “mom” is used a few times in the clip, and at least two people in the room identify themselves as being in the security footage, helping stop the burglary. Ms. Odinet’s lawyer, Dane S. Ciolino, later confirmed that she had used a racial slur in the video, which did not show the faces of those speaking.

After an unknown person released the video to the local news media, civic groups, including the Lafayette branch of the N.A.A.C.P., called on the judge to resign, and criminal defense lawyers asked the judge to recuse herself from their cases.

Mr. Ciolino acknowledged on Friday that the video footage had raised understandable concerns about Ms. Odinet’s impartiality as a judge.

“There was never going to be a situation where African Americans would appear before her and not file motions to recuse,” Mr. Ciolino said.


Mr. Ciolino said there were efforts in New Orleans to scour Ms. Odinet’s files for evidence of racism in how she had handled cases involving Black people.