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Black legal organization condemns racist comments by Louisiana judge

Judge Michelle Odinet

Compares African-American man to roach

By: National Bar Association

Last week, a sitting judge in Lafayette, La. Judge Michelle Odinet’s voice was captured on video of the aftermath of an invasion of her home mocking the intruder, a black man, calling him the n-word, and comparing him to a roach.

In light of decades of oppression, Jim Crow Laws, Police Brutality, and disproportionately higher conviction rates, people of color already bear an inherent distrust of the American justice system. Thus, it is imperative that our officers of the court, particularly our judges, exhibit the highest form of ethical standards, lack of bias, and are able to be impartial.

While Judge Odinet may assert that she was not cognizant of what she was saying at the time due to a sedative, her words clearly rolled off her tongue very easily as if to suggest that these were sentiments she expressed routinely. Her laughter and continued banter cited her approval of the conversation and unacceptable rhetoric. Her words and her willingness to participate in such disgusting berating of a Black man make her unfit to serve as a judge in any courtroom, because it is clear she has deeply rooted prejudices against some of the constituents that may appear in her courtroom.

At least one former client of Judge Odinet’s during her service as a public defender has taken to social media to question whether Odinet adequately and zealously defended, her citing her dismissive nature, and refusal to listen to her client’s urge that she work to uncover evidence she believed existed that might exonerate her of the charges she was facing.

How many more stories are there like this? How many Black faces are behind bars or reeling with the consequences of an unjust sentence or result from her bench due to Odinet’s clear unprofessionalism and overt racism?

“Judge Odinet’s statements were absolutely disgusting and as President of the National Bar Association, I am calling for her to resign from her post as judge. I, too, am a judge and as a member of the bench and a Black man, I am highly offended, and do not believe Odinet deserves to be in the ranks of the judiciary,” stated NBA President Carlos Moore.

The National Bar Association (NBA) condemns Judge Michelle Odinet’s racist statements and is demanding that she resign from her position as a judge immediately. In the alternative of her voluntary resignation, the NBA demands that the Judiciary Commission of Louisiana investigate Odinet and recommend appropriate steps by the Louisiana Supreme Court to unseat her.