LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The integrity of the city court system in Lafayette is now in question after racial slurs were allegedly spoken inside the home of Judge Michelle Odinet. The first of the many expected calls for Odinet’s recusal has been filed.
De’edrick Lawrence, who pleaded no contest to OWI second office before Judge Odinet back in September, was sentenced to unsupervised probation for two years. His attorneys accuse Odinet of being prejudiced and biased against African-Americans, and that disqualifies her from being fair and impartial under state law.
This situation is similar to that of another judge in Louisiana. Former Ascension Parish Judge Jessie Leblanc resigned in February 2020, after text messages showed her using racial slurs to describe court employees while exchanging those messages with a deputy she was having an affair with.
At the time, the district attorney reviewed back cases and sent thousands of letters to every defendant who appeared before her over an eight-year time span. There were only 4 or 5 cases that raised a red flag, and those have been resolved. However, in these types of situations, there’s no time limit for raising an issue.
It remains to be seen whether or not Lafayette City Court will do the same, to notify former defendants whose cases were decided by Judge Odinet.
Odinet was elected on November 3rd, 2020. She’s a former prosecutor for Orleans Parish and Lafayette Parish. She’s also a former public defender. Odinet received her law degree from Tulane University in 1993.
However, all of this legal experience and education could not prevent a slip of the tongue and being accused of spouting racial slurs in a widely viewed video on social media. As a result, all of this could create big problems for the Lafayette court system. If individual notifications are sent to defendants, there will be many, but likely not as many as in Judge Leblanc’s situation.
Judge Odinet’s next case in court is scheduled for December 28th.