La. Supreme Court appoints first Black judge to Lafayette City Court to replace Odinet during her suspension

Louisiana News

Retired Opelousas City Court Judge Vanessa Harris

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Louisiana Supreme Court has appointed a retired St. Landry Parish assistant district attorney and Opelousas city court judge to fill in for suspended Lafayette City Judge Michelle Odinet. In doing so, they have also appointed Lafayette’s first Black city judge.

According to the La. Supreme Court, Judge Vanessa Harris will serve as the temporary District A judge while Odinet is under investigation.

It was previously reported that retired district Judge Ronald D. Cox was set to take Odinet’s place. Odinet is reportedly currently out of the country on a vacation that was scheduled before the scandal broke. Cox was only set to fill in for Odinet while she was out of the country. Harris will instead be Odinet’s replacement until she either returns to the bench or an election is held to replace Odinet, should she be removed from office.

According to the Louisiana Judicial Council, Judge Vanessa Harris is a native of Washington, La. She received a B.S. in Computer Science from Southern University in 1985, and a J.D. from Southern University Law Center in 1988. She has been in private practice with Harris & Harris Law Firm since 1988. She served as an assistant district attorney in St. Landry Parish from 1988 to 2008. She took office as Opelousas city judge on January 1, 2009, and retired in 2020. 

Harris will serve effective Dec. 17, 2021, through Feb. 28, 2022, subject to the completion of any unfinished business.

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