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Judge Jessie LeBlanc

After having denied that she used racially charged language in texts to a former lover, a south Louisiana judge on Sunday admitted during a television interview that she did indeed use that language.

The text messages in question — apparently showing Judge Jessie LeBlanc using the word "n-----" while referring to a black deputy and to a court employee — were taken from the cellphone of Assumption Parish Sheriff Leland Falcon's former chief deputy, Capt. Bruce Prejean, and were not altered, according to an affidavit Prejean provided the sheriff.

LeBlanc told WAFB on Sunday that she believes the messages were altered and didn't reflect the entire conversations. She did, however, admit to using the racial slurs.  She apologized to the two officials, saying that she regretted the message.

"I should have never said it. It is uncalled for. I was angry," she said. "I was upset but it’s no excuse.”

LeBlanc's attorney, Jill Craft, previously denied that her client sent racially charged messages. Craft didn't immediately return calls Sunday from The Advocate.

Falcon said Sunday the Sheriff's Office won't conduct a forensic examination of Prejean's personal phone.

"The messages speak for themselves and when enjoined by all the facts available to us, all of which we have made available to the media, the texts speak loudly and there's no question as to who sent them," he wrote in an email to The Advocate.

The text messages added fuel to an ongoing dispute against the embattled 23rd Judicial district judge, whose record has fallen under scrutiny after she acknowledged having an affair with Prejean.

After the news broke about the racially charged text messages, the state and Baton Rouge chapters of the NAACP called Friday for LeBlanc's immediate resignation. WAFB reported that she said she will not step down, but she plans to meet with the NAACP.

Others, including district attorney and public defender offices, have called on LeBlanc to recuse herself from criminal cases, saying her relationship with Prejean created a conflict of interest.

The 23rd Judicial District encompasses Assumption, Ascension and St. James parishes. LeBlanc lives near Gonzales but has her main office in Napoleonville.

In late December, The Advocate reported that District Attorney Ricky Babin had informed some 20 Assumption Parish criminal defendants that the judge overseeing their cases has disclosed a personal relationship with a top deputy in the parish Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday, The Advocate published photocopies of texts released by Falcon containing the racial slurs.

That led Babin last week to reveal that the comments in the texts forced him to send notices to some 2,100 defendants and lawyers in all three parishes of the 23rd Judicial District where LeBlanc presides. He said the texts give the appearance of bias and prejudice in cases involving black defendants, defendants who had black witnesses or black potential jurors.

Tyler Cavalier, a spokesman for Babin, said Sunday the district attorney declined to comment on the latest development.

The Louisiana Supreme Court appointed a series of temporary judges while LeBlanc was on sick leave after news of the alleged affair surfaced earlier this year. The high court has maintained her authority as a judge.

The court closed noon Friday and won't reopen until Wednesday.


Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com.