BATON ROUGE, La. — Gov. John Bel Edwards called Wednesday on a Louisiana judge to step down after she admitted to using racial slurs in angry text messages. The Democratic governor said the “state deserves better.”
Edwards said in a statement that District Judge Jessie LeBlanc “has compromised her ability to preside as a judge, and she has damaged the judiciary. She should resign.”
LeBlanc, who is white, told WAFB-TV in an interview Sunday that she admits using a slur to describe a black sheriff's deputy and a black law clerk in text messages she sent to Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean as their extramarital affair ended.
She told the TV station: “I profusely apologize for that. I should have never said it.” But she also said she has no plans to resign and instead is gearing up to seek re-election when her current term in Louisiana's 23rd Judicial District expires in December.
The district includes Assumption, Ascension and St. James parishes.
“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," Edwards said in a statement. “There is never any circumstance or context in which such derogatory and degrading language is okay.”
The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus also called on the judge Wednesday to immediately leave the position, saying if she refused to do so, the state's Judiciary Commission should start an independent investigation of her conduct.
District Attorney Ricky Babin and the district’s lead public defender have filed a court motion asking that LeBlanc voluntarily recuse herself from criminal matters in Assumption Parish, or be forced to do so because of the affair. Babin also said that hundreds of the judge's cases are now under review.
LeBlanc, who took office in 2012, said she doesn't believe the affair would cause any trial verdicts in her court to be overturned.