Vanessa Harris Becomes Lafayette’s First Black City Judge After Another Judge Accused Of Spewing Racial Slurs
The former district attorney will occupy a city court seat in the wake of the investigation.
December 21, 2021 at 8:04 pm
The Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed the city of Lafayette’s first Black city judge, KLFY 10 reports.
Judge Vanessa Harris will temporarily fill in for City Judge Michelle Odinet after she was heard on video spewing racist obscenities when an attempted car burglary took place outside her residence. She has since been suspended, and an investigation is underway regarding her behavior.
Odinet said in a statement that she had a sedative at the time of the recording and has "zero recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it," KATC 3 reports. Her lawyer, Dane Ciolino, supported the evidence that Odinet indeed used racial commentary.
According to CNN, a female voice can be heard saying, "We have a n ****r, It's a n****r, like a roach."
Initially, Judge Ronald D. Cox was set to be the interim judge in Odinet’s place during her vacation time out of the country, MyArkLAMiss reports. However, Harris will fill the position until Odinet’s successor is in place after an election, or until Odinet returns to the bench. Speculation as to whether Odinet will be removed from office still remains.
Harris, aWashington, Louisiana, native, obtained her undergraduate degree in computer science from Southern University in 1985. She later received her Juris Doctor degree in 1988 from Southern University Law Center, the Louisiana Judicial Council reports.
After being in private practice at Harris & Harris Law firm, she became an assistant district attorney in St. Landry Parish from 1988 until 2008.
On Jan. 1, 2009, Harris took office as a city judge in Opelousas, where she would retire in 2020. Her duties as temporary District A judge began on Dec. 17 and will continue through Feb. 28, 2022, contingent on any outstanding legal matters.