Lafayette City Judge Odinet Resigns
Three weeks after she was caught on video using a racist slur, Lafayette City Judge Michelle Odinet has resigned her post.
Odinet's attorney, Dane Ciolino, confirmed Odinet's resignation to KPEL Friday.
"She knows this is the end of her public service, but she also knows it's the start of her effort to win back the trust of the public," Ciolino said when reached by phone Friday morning.
Odinet sent her resignation letter to the Supreme Court of Louisiana. In it, Odinet apologized for using the racist slur she uttered in the video recorded inside her home.
"I take full responsibility for the hurtful words I used to describe the individual who burglarized the vehicles at my home," Odinet wrote. "I am sorry for the pain I have caused my community and ask for your forgiveness, as my words did not foster the public's confidence and integrity for the judiciary."
Odinet's resignation ends a saga that began on December 13, when the cell phone video of the incident became public. The Current first published the video of Odinet and her family watching surveillance video of a man they say tried to break into cars at their home. A young man quotes his mother as using a racial slur referring to the suspect. A woman then repeats the slur and refers to the suspect as "a roach."
Here is the video. It contains offensive language.
Hours after the video surfaced, Odinet responded by confirming that the video was indeed filmed inside her home. However, she said that she was on a sedative when the video was taken and had no recollection of what anyone said. One day after that response, Odinet blamed one of her sons, saying the video "highlighted and confirmed a suspected substance abuse issue our son is having." One of her sons, Eli Odinet, was kicked off the LSU Track and Field Team one day after his mother made those remarks.
On Thursday, December 16, Odinet, through her attorney, admitted that she was the woman in the video who used the slur. She then said she would be taking an unpaid leave of absence from the bench. The Supreme Court of Louisiana granted Odinet's request for unpaid leave when the court suspended her without pay on Friday, December 17. The court appointed former Opelousas judge Vanessa Harris to serve as an ad hoc Lafayette City Judge
Odinet's resignation comes after local residents, elected officials, and editorial writers called for her to leave the bench. State Representative Vincent Pierre, former city-parish councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, and city marshal Reggie Thomas all demanded Odinet's resignation, as did the presidents of the National Bar Association and the Lafayette NAACP. Governor John Bel Edwards, when asked about the situation, said Odinet needed to resign. Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory called on Odinet to "do the right thing."
Odinet was elected to the bench in November 2020, succeeding Francie Bouillon in the Division A seat. Prior to serving on the bench, she was a prosecutor in New Orleans and Lafayette and, later, a public defender. The Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office has ordered a review of cases Odinet prosecuted during her time in that judicial district.