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Judge Jessie Leblanc resigns following national outcry over her use of racial slurs

4 years 4 months 2 weeks ago Thursday, February 27 2020 Feb 27, 2020 February 27, 2020 5:42 PM February 27, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

NAPOLEONVILLE - One week after the WBRZ Investigative Unit exposed racist text messages sent by Judge Jessie Leblanc, the judge tendered her resignation.

It comes after mounting pressure from people in Louisiana, across the nation and the world.

Click here to read the full resignation letter

Her resignation letter called out a number of people including: an unnamed member of Governor John Bel Edwards' staff, District Attorney Ricky Babin, Sheriff Leland Falcon, Judge Alvin Turner and others.

Babin told WBRZ Thursday, he does not put much weight into what she is saying.

"I think she is angry and lashing out," Babin said. "I wish her well."

Judge Alvin Turner denied the allegations Leblanc wrote in her letter.

"My law clerk does not handle criminal matters," Turner told WBRZ by phone. "She is distorting the truth which is par for the course for Jessie. I will not call her a judge."

Wednesday, Governor John Bel Edwards said Leblanc needed to resign. His calls came days after the Louisiana NAACP weighed in on WBRZ's story calling for Leblanc's immediate resignation.

Leblanc's problems first came to light in December when she refused to sign a warrant. She claimed that it was due to a personal relationship with Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean. In January, Prejean admitted to a lengthy affair with Leblanc which caused at least 600 cases to come under review.

Last week, the Assumption Parish Sheriff's Office turned over racist text messages to the WBRZ Investigative Unit that Prejean said came from her phone. Prejean signed an affidavit saying the messages were not altered and were in the form that he received them.

After facing mounting pressure from WBRZ, The Advocate and continuous stories, Leblanc went to another TV station Sunday and told her side. In that interview, she admitted using the "n-word" to describe an African-American deputy and law clerk. She also said she would not resign and planned to run for re-election. During the interview, she admitted to the affair. It's an affair she has denied having for two months.

After repeatedly denying the messages were hers and having her attorney make numerous comments that the messages were fake, the judge revealed the truth.  Legal experts suggested to WBRZ, the judge's truthfulness has been questioned. 

Now, defendants who went before her will be notified about the racist language she used. Babin said his office has spent hundreds of hours sifting through cases already.

"We will send out letters to every case she has ever handled so someone who has concerns can go back to court file motions, and we can go back to court and hear whether that was a factor in their convictions," Babin said.

The Secretary of State confirmed to WBRZ Thursday that it had received Judge Jessie Leblanc's resignation letter. The Louisiana Supreme Court will now have to appoint her replacement.

We will have continuing coverage on Leblanc's resignation and what it means for all the cases she presided over on later editions of WBRZ at 5 and 6.

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