Who Is Michelle Odinet? Video of Judge Saying Racial Slurs Sparks Resignation Calls

Michelle Odinet is a judge from Lafayette, Louisiana, who is facing multiple calls to resign after she was caught making racist slurs on video while watching footage of a Black man being pinned down by two police officers, while he was allegedly attempting to burgle her family home.

The man was reportedly arrested in connection with the burglary at the Lafayette City Court judge's home in Bendel Gardens over the weekend.

A video of Odinet watching footage of police apprehending and pinning down the man outside their home circulated on social media on Monday.

In the video, one man's voice says ""And mom's yelling n****r, n****r," to which the judge jokes "We have a n*****. It's a n*****. Like a roach," before she laughs.

Odinet, who has four children, confirmed to local news site The Current that the footage was from her home. It is unclear who recorded it and leaked it.

The judge told The Current that she had been unable to sleep since the attempted burglary, had taken a sedative at time when the video with the racist slurs was recorded, and therefore didn't remember what was said.

"My children and I were the victim [sic] of an armed burglary at our home. The police were called and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile," the judge said.

"I was a wreck and am still unable to sleep. I was given a sedative at the time of the video. I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it," she added.

"Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglary."

Judge Michelle Odinet faces resignation calls
Judge Michelle Odinet faces resignation calls. YouTube

Despite her claims it was an armed burglary, Lafayette police said no weapons was found on the man they had arrested.

Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump, who has acted for clients including George Floyd's and Daunte Wright's families, said that Odinet needed to resign. On Twitter, Crump posted a video of her talking with a man, who appears to be a policeman in front of the television.

"This is DISGUSTING! Judge Michelle Odinet is captured on video using racial slurs while reviewing home security footage. People's lives are in HER HANDS on a daily basis," Crump tweeted. "This level of hate & racial bias should not be in our courtrooms! She needs to RESIGN!"

Layfayette City Marshall Reggie Thomas condemned the judge's slurs, in a statement published by KATC3.

"I strongly believe Judge Odinet should be held accountable," Thomas 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," he added.

State Senator Gerald Boudreaux said he would pursue an investigation into Odinet's comments.

On Tuesday, the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus also called on Odinet to resign.

Lafayette NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) chapter President Michael Toussain said his organisation was "disheartened" to learn of Odinet's racially-charged comments.

He said that the judge's comments in the video show that she regards Black people as "no more than roaches, rats or lesser species than herself."

Judge Odinet Lafayette City Court
A photo of Lafayette City Court Judge Michelle Odinet. Odinetis is facing multiple calls to resign after she was caught making racist slurs on video while watching footage of a Black man being pinned down by two police officers while allegedly attempting to burgle their family home. Lafayette City Court

Toussain joined the call for Odinet to be removed from her role.

Odinet, a Republican who is married to Lafayette Parish Coroner Kenneth Odinet Jr., was elected to her seat in November last year.

Efforts to remove her will likely fail, unless she decides to resign herself. In Louisiana, judges are the only elected officials that are protected from recall petitions.

Only the state's Supreme Court can remove an elected judge from the bench, following an investigation by Louisiana's Judicial Commission, but that can take months or even years.