Feature Photo: Lafayette City Court Judge Division A candidate Michelle Odinet. Photo courtesy of the candidate.
Michelle Odinet, Republican, believes she has what it takes to be the next Lafayette City Court Judge Division A.
Odinet is a former prosecutor who now works for the Lafayette Parish Public Defender’s Office, and is assigned to city court handling criminal and traffic matters for those without representation. The Lafayette City Court is significant because it is the court most people in Lafayette interact with. Odinet believes her experiences and qualifications can strengthen the court.
After graduating from Tulane University School of Law, Odinet worked for the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office. According to Odinet, she prosecuted juvenile delinquencies and adult matters ranging from disturbing the peace to first-degree murder.
“When I was there, I was in the courtroom five days a week, prepared to go to trial every single day. I had several cases a week, depending on the section of court you were assigned to, several trials in one day,” Odinet said.
Odinet recalls the tremendous case load she had in Orleans Parish from working with individuals to the courtroom with a full docket of cases. “It definitely shaped me as an attorney… I understand the importance of running an efficient docket,” she said.
For those on trial, Odinet understands the importance of being heard. She also wants to address their individual needs.
“We need to help them become productive members of our community. You can’t tell someone to just get a job, most of the people that come through city court especially on a criminal docket need to be shown how to get a job,” Odinet said.
Odinet also gained valuable experience through her children. She took time off of work to homeschool her two sets of twins and said it was a phenomenal and tough experience. She said she learned a lot about her children, her family, how different each child is and how they all required different objectives for learning.
All of Odinet’s experiences have shaped how she sees city court evolving. She wants to implement programs to help citizens become successful and held accountable. Odinet said these programs wouldn’t be funded by taxpayers, but by the individuals in a feasible way.
“You can give them the services and provide them with everything they need, but it is up to them to make the choice to want to do it. I feel like I’m the best candidate because I work there and because of my experience that I can get a better buy- in, but if they don’t buy-in and come back you have to hold them accountable,” Odinet said.
According to Odinet, she is passionate about starting a veterans court program in Lafayette for veterans who commit offenses due to psychological disorders. “This court would be specifically designed to give those veterans the structure that most of them crave after they move to civilian life. It will require treatment and frequent drug testing,” Odinet said. She also wants to provide mentors for veterans, which Odinet said she thinks will help them get to a point where they are productive members in a civilian society.
“I have seen them come through city court and they have given so much for us. I feel like we owe it to them. They have sacrificed so much,” Odinet said.
In addition to her time as an attorney, Odinet contributes her time and talents to many organizations as listed on her website.
Odinet is passionate about this opportunity to serve on the city court and believes she can make a change for the better.