UPDATE: Numerous Lafayette public officials condemn Odinet’s involvement in racial slur video

Lafayette Parish

UPDATE 12/15/21 8:30 P.M. Lafayette City Councilman Glenn Lazard issues statement on judges comments:

“Most of our community and indeed the nation have recently heard the egregious and appalling comments recently made by Lafayette City Court Judge Michele Odinet. The ability of a Judge to be fair and impartial is at the foundation and indeed the bedrock of our legal and criminal justice system. The comments expressed by Judge Odinet, the cavalier nature by which they were expressed and her seemingly inability to recognize the severity of the comments and acceptance of responsibility raise serious concerns as to her ability to render fair and impartial justice to people of color and undermines public confidence in the judicial system.

I strongly believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt and realize that none of us are perfect. However, judges because of the power and authority they exercise over peoples’ lives and liberty should and must be held to the highest of standards. Judge Odinet has clearly failed to meet that standard. Therefore, I am left with no choice but to conclude that it is in the best interest of our community that Judge Odinet tender her resignation immediately. Then and only then will public confidence be restored in the judicial system and our community can heal and move forward.”

UPDATE, 12/15/21, 11 a.m.: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is calling for state officials to investigate Judge Michelle Odinet’s involvement in a controversial video containing racial slurs.

“Judges are supposed to be fair and impartial arbiters of justice for all,” said ADL Southern Division Policy Director Aaron Ahlquist in a press release. “The racist comments made by Judge Odinet are indicative of a troubling bias against Black people, which is disqualifying for an objective legal official who decides the fates of peoples’ lives. ADL fully supports the call to the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana to further examine Judge Odinet’s conduct and take swift and appropriate action — Louisianians deserve accountability.”

UPDATE: 4:49 P.M.: Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory has issued a response on the video comments made by City Court Judge Michelle Odinet.

“I am disgusted and appalled by the recent reports involving a local judge. This type of language is hurtful, divisive, and unacceptable. The fairness and objectivity of our courts are the foundation of our legal system. It is my hope that the judge will do what is best to help the community heal and move forward.”

Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory

Former State Representative Rickey Hardy also issued a statement.

Judge Michelle Odinet with great disappointment of your poor words of choice, I Rickey Hardy strongly feel that it would be in the best interest for your family and the community for you to step down, and hold yourself accountable.

Former State Representative Rickey Hardy

UPDATE, 11:34 a.m.: The chair of the Louisiana Democratic Party is calling for Lafayette City Judge Michelle Odinet’s resignation in the wake of a controversial racial slur video.

“We will not tolerate bigotry from the bench. Fairness and impartiality cannot coexist with racism; Lafayette needs a new Judge,” said Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Katie Bernhardt in a press release. “I call on Judge Odinet’s immediate resignation.”

UPDATE, 11:34 a.m.: Shortly after Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas’ remarks on Judge Michelle Odinet’s involvement with a racial slur video, Dist. 24 State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux has also issued a statement:

Let me express my disappointment, as words are inadequate to describe my pain after reviewing the family video at the home of our current city court judge, Mrs. Odinet. 

We have struggled miserably to garner public support for our judicial system at every level in this country.  The political landscape has become so toxic that the negative impact has been identified and evident from the United State Supreme Court to the Lafayette City Court.  I can assure you that the late Judge Kaliste Saloom, Jr. did not allow and would never condone this racist discourse from any of his children, in his residence or in his neighborhood.

The Lafayette community deserves and must have loyal political leadership if it is to be respected and recruit businesses and families that will ultimately call Acadiana their home.  I respectfully request and will officially petition that the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana investigate the ethical conduct and actions associated with the recent developments.

This situation and the comments are reprehensible, offensive and totally unacceptable from anyone serving as a judge.  The comments fail to identify any form of lamentation and cast a cloud relative to the impartiality of the judge to serve as an unbiased arbitrator in cases involving African Americans.

As the Advent season continues, I pray for justice and peace and for a keen awareness from all members of our community, especially when we identify and address sensitive, cultural and racial issues.  The improper handling or the continuous denial, contributes to a high level of tension, divisiveness and destruction.  I once again appeal to the community to speak out against the chaos and confusion that has infiltrated Washington, D.C. and is now evident in Lafayette, LA.

While some might say our brightest days are ahead of us, this situation illuminates the dark past that has destroyed many communities.  Remaining silent when it is time to speak out is indicative of complicity.  Our community deserves better and we should not stop until we have accountability and transparency.

Dist. 24 State Sen. Gerald Boudreaux

ORIGINAL POST: LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas is calling for City Judge Michelle Odinet to be “held accountable” after footage surfaced of people allegedly saying racial slurs in her home after a failed break-in attempt.

The video consists exclusively of security camera footage of the break-in attempt. In the video, a couple of voices can be heard using a racial slur in reacting to the security camera footage. Socal media sources say the video occurred in Odinet’s living room, though none of the people belonging to the voices heard on the video can be seen.

Thomas, who issued a press statement this morning, said that an “ineffectual and weak apology would not suffice” for Odinet’s response to the video. Odinet said she was “given a sedative at the time of the video” and thus, had zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it.” The head of the Lafayette Parish NAACP has called for Odinet’s resignation in the aftermath of the video being made public.

Thomas’ statement can be read in full below:

“When I was elected to the position of City Marshal, one of my promises was to make sure that everyone who visited City Court for any reason, would be treated fairly and with integrity. I believe my office has done its part to do that. Yesterday, a video surfaced with several people using the N word. It is my understanding that Lafayette City Judge Michelle Odinet has confirmed that the video was taken at her residence. Since that time, several people have asked my position and thoughts on the matter.

Before I was elected the first African American to a Citywide seat in the City of Lafayette, I was a proud black man. Even at this mature stage of my life, this language still hurts me to my core. I am certain that most people of color share my pain when the N word is used to describe us. With that being said, I’m sure that people of color will find it impossible to trust that they will be treated fairly and equally when they have to stand for judgment before Judge Odinet. This type of language cannot be accepted or tolerated by anyone, especially those who serve as leaders in our city.

I understand that a burglary was taken place, and that’s a strenuous circumstance. Nonetheless, it is during tough situations that our character is revealed. The usage of the N word to describe any individual is not only deplorable, it is revealing of racial prejudice, let alone from such an high representative of our judicial system.

As a proud black man, and the Lafayette City Marshal, I strongly believe Judge Odinet should be held accountable. It is up to Judge Odinet to remember the oath she took, and should she remain on the bench, find a way to gain back the trust of “all” of Lafayette, especially African Americans. A mere ineffectual and weak apology will not suffice.

As stated before, I pledge to everyone that walks through the doors of City Court, that my Marshals will be respectful and provide security to everyone.

Lafayette City Marshal Reggie Thomas

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