A Baton Rouge judge in the 23rd Judicial District has been accused of sending racist text messages, allegedly using the N-word when mentioning a Black deputy and law clerk in Ascension Parish. Assumption Parish Sheriff Leland Falcon said that the messages from Judge Jessie Leblanc were sent to his former Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean, despite Leblanc’s attorney denying that she sent the messages, according to ABC affiliate WBRZ2.
Falcon told WBR2 that the text messages Prejean received in December 2018 referred to Assumption Deputy Erick Taylor as a “dirty cop” and a “thug.” The messages also called Taylor and a judge’s clerk the N-word. The messages were provided to WBR2’s investigative unit by Falcon, but Leblanc’s attorney alleges that the messages were altered.
Despite Leblanc’s denial, District Attorney Ricky Babin says that at least 600 of the judge’s cases are now under review. Babin said that at least 2,100 letters have been disseminated to every defendant that has appeared before Leblanc since 2012 when she was sworn in. The defendants, as well as their attorneys, have been made aware of the derogatory and racist language the judge has been accused of using.
Prejean, the alleged recipient of the messages, has also admitted to having an affair with Leblanc, which she has denied as well. A lengthy investigation was conducted, resulting in Prejean’s admission. According to The Advocate, the messages stemmed from what appeared to be an argument over a “soured relationship,” in which Prejean was accused of having an affair with someone else.
Prejean and Leblanc are both married, according to WAFB.
“At least I was NEVER unfaithful to you with ANYONE- much less a ni****,” one of the messages read.
“I’m sure you are with thug ni**** Erick. He is such a good friend,” said another.
The names of the two individuals engaging in the conversation were not displayed in the messages, however, one of the numbers connected to the messages is said to be a number Leblanc was known to have used until recently.
“We have again had a dialogue with Captain Prejean and he has informed us that the two copies of text messages in question were received on Captain Prejean’s private cell phone and came from cell phone number 225-***-****, that phone being that of Judge Jessie Leblanc,” Falcon said. “There is other supporting evidence to confirm Captain Prejean’s statement of authenticity of the messages as received by him.”
Following the news of Prejean and Leblanc’s relationship surfacing, Babin and Assumption Parish’s public defender took a rare action and filed a joint motion to have the judge removed from any hearing cases in Assumption Parish. A court date for the motion has not yet been set.
Prejean was demoted and disciplined, but the disciplinary action was not disclosed.
On the contrary, Leblac’s attorney claims the photograph she saw of the text messages look “manipulated.” “I have looked at the alleged text messages and they appear to have altered,” said attorney Jill Craft. “For example, if you look at both, one has screen cracks present in the lower left corner not present in the other. The type font with the alleged phone number matches exactly but the text boxes in both do not, meaning someone has deliberately manipulated the content.”
The NAACP is not sold on Leblanc’s claims that she did not send the messages and is calling for her resignation. “Although Judge Jessie LeBlanc denies sending these messages from her phone, we find it hard to believe that anyone else would have access to a judge’s phone while texting a Chief Criminal Deputy,” said Baton Rouge NAACP Brand President Eugene Collins.
Collins continued, “This act shows a blatant disrespect for members of the African American Community, and further shows Judge LeBlanc shouldn’t be serving. The NAACP has planned a series of peaceful demonstrations, both electronic and physical.”
What a time.