The Louisiana Supreme Court appointed Judge Vanessa Harris to replace the suspended Lafayette City judge who was caught on video using a racial slur.
This appointment makes Harris, a retired St. Landry Parish assistant district attorney, the first Black Lafayette city judge, local station KFLY-TV reported on Friday (Dec. 17). Harris will serve temporarily while Judge Michelle Odinet is under investigation.
According to CBS News, the Louisiana Supreme Court issued an order on Friday (Dec. 17) temporarily removing Odinet from the bench. It stated that she is “disqualified from exercising judicial functions, without salary, during the pendency of further proceedings in these matters."
At first, Odinet claimed to have no memory of the incident that led to her downfall but later admitted to her role and apologized, CBS stated.
In the video of an apparent attempted robbery by a Black man at her home, Odinet’s voice and others can be heard in the background laughing and using the N-word.
"That's me," one viewer says while watching the security footage of the man being caught. "And Mom's yelling 'n---, n---.'" Another viewer says, "We have a n-----. It's a n-----, like a roach."
In a statement, Odinet claimed she was given a sedative at the time of video and had zero recollection, CBS reported. However, her attorney Dane Ciolino confirmed on Wednesday (Dec. 15) that Odinet was indeed one of the voices on the footage and issued an apology on her behalf.
Harris will replace Odinet until she either returns to the bench or an election is held to replace her if she’s permanently removed from office.