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Judge Resigns After Louisiana Gov. Asks Her To Step Down For Using Racial Slurs In Her Text Messages

Judge Resigns After Louisiana Gov. Asks Her To Step Down For Using Racial Slurs In Her Text Messages
WAFB/Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has asked a state judge to step down on Wednesday after she admitted to sending text messages containing racial slurs.

The 23rd Judicial District Court Judge, Jessie LeBlanc, put in her resignation the following day.

LeBlanc—who is White— used the N-word to describe a Black sheriff's deputy and a Black law clerk in her district in a private correspondence with former Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean—with whom she had an extramarital affair.

You can watch the news report of the resigned judge below.

On Sunday, LeBlanc apologized for her "horrible decision" by using the N-word multiple times—even referring to the deputy as "a thug"—and said she was "upset" and "angry" at the time she sent the messages in 2018.

"They deserve an apology from me. I sincerely apologize to both of them for using that word ... while I may have been upset, angry, scared, it does not excuse my actions."

When asked if the former judge used the racial slur before, she stammered:

"Not in a – no - not – no – not in a – no - I have not used that racial slur in the past."
"This was in a moment of a heated exchange that was private between Bruce and one I that I never dreamed would have come out to the public."

The Democratic Governor issued a statement concluding that LeBlanc "compromised her ability to preside as a judge" and maintained his position in favor of LeBlanc's resignation.

"The admitted and repeated use of racial slurs by a judge who has taken an oath to administer justice fairly and impartially is wrong, period."

"There is never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay."

Governor Edwards continued:

"Sadly, inequities still exist in society and in our judicial system. Judge LeBlanc has compromised her ability to preside as a judge, and she has damaged the judiciary."
"She should resign. The people of the 23rd Judicial District and our state deserve better."

Within minutes after his statement, LeBlanc's attorney, Jill Craft, fired back with a heated response.

"Judge LeBlanc has made her position and contrition clear. Her statements were made in a private conversation and in response to a clearly threatening situation."
"If that is now the litmus test for any public official, then every one of our public officials should be immediately held to the same standard, including private statements about race, gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, sex, religion."
"This means all public officials should be immediately required to disclose all of their private communications, including by text, email or otherwise."

Baton Rouge NAACP President Eugene Collins was the first to demand LeBlanc to be "removed from the bench."

Prior to LeBlanc's resignation, Collins said that her actions warranted consequences and warned that a demonstration would take place if she refused to voluntarily step down.

"That's a huge step for the State of Louisiana, making sure that our leaders of Louisiana don't support a sitting judge using racist undertones or racist language in any form."
"She's a racist. She used the n-word and we're still going to hold true to our position that she should be removed from her current position."

The NAACP submitted a formal complaint against LeBlanc with the State Supreme Court, following her admission.

On Wednesday, the NAACP also responded to Craft's heated statement to Governor Edwards.

"We are dismayed and extremely disappointed that Judge Jessie LeBlanc, through her attorney Jill Craft who has communicated multiple versions of what occurred, is using the cloak of a private conversation to justify the use of intentional racial discourse to refer to various Officers of the Court."
It is well known that the N-Word is a profoundly hurtful racial slur meant to stigmatize African Americans and should not be used at any time or in any circumstance."
"Judge LeBlanc has served on the Louisiana Sentencing Commission for several years and has decided thousands of cases, many involving the welfare and freedoms of African Americans."
"It is impossible to reconcile the possibility that Judge LeBlanc was fair and impartial while serving on this Commission or as magistrate while serving the 23rd Judicial District Court in light of her recent disturbing unsolicited racist remarks to another Officer of the Court."
"Judge LeBlanc has demonstrated that she is racially biased against African Americans, and it is only fair that all of the cases for which she served as a District Court Judge and Hearing Officer be reviewed."
"We applaud Governor John Bell Edwards, The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, and leaders, locally, statewide, nationally and internationally for taking a stand to uphold the integrity of the Judicial System. Judge Leblanc's attempt to double down on the context and forum for which these harmful words were said is shameful."

LeBlanc previously admitted to having an eight-year extramarital affair with Prejean, who was also married to someone else at the time.

Since ending the affair in 2016, she expressed her regret and mentioned she continues having to apologize to her husband.

"It is something I'm not proud of."
"I've had to apologize to my husband, I will continue to have to apologize to my husband, my children, and my God for the rest of my life."

Prejean was demoted from his position as chief deputy after he admitted to having the affair in 2019.

LeBlanc maintained she is not a racist and asked for forgiveness.

She told WAFB:

"As a person, I know that I am not a racist. I know that I treat everyone with respect. It doesn't matter who you are."
"I was not raised to treat someone based upon the color of their skin. So, to those people, I tell them, yes, I made a horrible decision in using those slurs toward those people."
"I ask for forgiveness from them. I've asked for forgiveness from my God. And, I know that I am not a person that bases you off the color of your skin."
Despite LeBlanc's apology, LSU law professor, Ken Levy, said the damage had already been done.
"What she said was clearly reprehensible, horrible, and inexcusable."

Collins added:

"I hope that she can get the forgiveness that she's seeking, but it won't come from the NAACP."