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(Correction: It was previously stated that Judge Harris had been appointed to the Louisiana Supreme Court and that is incorrect. Judge Harris was appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to replace Judge Odinet at Lafayette City Court.)
Judge Vanessa Harris has been appointed by the Louisiana Supreme Court to replace suspended Judge Michelle Odinet after a racist video recorded in her home went viral.
Judge Harris will serve as judge pro tempore from December 17, 2021 through February 28, 2022.
This is not the first time Judge Harris has made history as a judge in Louisiana, according to the Louisiana Supreme Court. She made history back in 2009 when she was elected Opelousas City Court Judge, becoming the first female and Black judge to serve on that bench.
Trailblazer Judge Harris replaces disgraced former judge
Retired Judge Harris earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Southern University in 1985 and her juris doctorate from Southern University Law Center in 1988. She began her career practicing with the Harris & Harris Law Firm in 1988 and served as an assistant district attorney in St. Landry Parish from 1988-2008.
The viral video of Judge Odinet and her son uttering racial epithets, while watching home surveillance footage of an attempted burglary, was taken on a cellphone with multiple people in the room.
“Mom’s yelling, n*gger, n*gger,” the guy holding the camera said. Later confirmed by Odinet and her lawyer to be her son.
“We have a n*gger. It’s a n*gger, like a roach,” a lady responded.
Former judge blamed racist language on medication
Her lawyer, Dane Ciolino, said that the judge is “humiliated” and “embarrassed.”
“She is humiliated, embarrassed and sorry for what she’s done and the trouble she’s caused to the community,” Ciolino said.
Odinet blamed the racist language on a sedative taken because she was “taken to her core” after the burglary.
In a text message sent to The Acadiana Advocate, Odinet asked for “understanding, forgiveness, patience, and prayers” for her and her son.
“I have zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it,” Odinet told The Current. “Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives.”
“The situation highlighted and confirmed a suspected substance abuse issue our son is having,” she added. “We are taking the necessary steps to get our son the help and treatment he needs.”