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Louisiana Judge Resigns After Using Racial Slur in Video

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. “I take full responsibility for the hurtful words I used to describe the individual who burglarized the vehicles at my home,” wrote Judge Michelle Odinet of the City Court of Lafayette, La., in a letter to the chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, reports the New York Times. “I am sorry for the pain that 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,” she wrote. Odinet said she was stepping down “after much reflection and prayer, and in order to facilitate healing within the community.”

In the video, people 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, and at least two people identify themselves as being in the security footage, helping stop the burglary. Odinet’s lawyer, Dane Ciolino, 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. Ciolino acknowledged that the video footage had raised understandable concerns about 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,” Ciolino said.


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