US judge who sent racist texts should resign, governor says

Louise Hall
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A Louisiana district judge who has admitted texting racial slur messages is under pressure to step down from Gov John Bel Edwards.

Edwards released a statement saying that District Judge Jessie LeBlanc "has compromised her ability to preside as a judge, and she has damaged the judiciary. She should resign.”

After denying sending the text messages for months, Ms LeBlanc, finally admitted to sending them in an interview on Sunday on WAFB-TV.

She said that she used the 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.

“I profusely apologise for that. I should have never said it,” she told the station.

However, the judge said she had no plans to resign and is, in fact, gearing up to seek re-election when her current term in Louisiana's 23rd Judicial District expires in December.

Mr Edwards had publicly called for the judge’s recognition in a statement.

“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,“ he said.

The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus also called for an independent investigation of Ms Leblanc’s conduct by the state’s Judiciary Commission should she refuse to resign.

LeBlanc's lawyer, Jill Craft, hit back at the judge’s statement saying that Edwards should focus on his own branch of government rather than criticise the judge.

”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 immediately be required to disclose all of their private communications.” Craft said.

She said that Ms Leblanc has made her ”contrition clear“ about the comments she made in a ”private conversation.“

A court motion has been filed by District Attorney Ricky Babin and the district's lead public defender asking that LeBlanc voluntarily recuse herself from criminal matters in Assumption Parish, or be forced to do so because of the affair.

LeBlanc took office in 2012 and maintains that the affair would not have caused any trial verdicts in her court to be overturned.

”The public is urged to look at every case she has ever handled, how she runs her Court and how she does her job. There has never been a hint of bias,“ Craft said.

However, Mr Babin said that hundreds of the judge's cases are now under review.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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