Category Archives: Ohio

A Sarasota Congressional Candidate Apparently Fabricated her College Degree

howard2.jpg

Melissa Howard

In a contentious Republican primary in Sarasota, there have been several accusations of dishonesty against candidate Melissa Howard. The latest was that she had not graduated with a degree from her undergrad, Miami University in Ohio. [Full disclosure, that’s where I went to undergrad.] Howard disputed the claim, and called it false news, and provided an alleged photo from graduation. Of note, her campaign changed the date of her supposed graduation from 1994 to 1996. She proceeded to claim a few days later that she had flown to her parents home to collect her diploma that she says her mother had been keeping in a storage unit. To finally convince everyone that she had graduated, she posted a picture of herself with a Miami University diploma from 1996, declaring that Melissa Marie Fox, her maiden name, had received a degree in marketing. FlaNews took down their report, and she called on her opponent to ‘stop the lies‘. But the story didn’t stop there.

 

howardThe Howard campaign took some of the graduation claims down from her web page on Friday, and FlaNews continued to dig. The University confirmed that Howard had not received a degree in ’94 or ’96, and that the diploma did not appear legitimate. FlaNews reposted their story with more… Miami University does not have a degree in marketing: had she majored in marketing, it would have been a bachelor’s of science in business. Also, the dean whose signature appears on the diploma is not the correct dean, suggesting that the diploma had been fabricated.

Howard has been silent since the latest story was posted, and her campaign adviser says she is dealing with a medical issue with her husband. At this point, it’s hard to even take her word for that. I did not know her from my time at Miami, but I was several years behind, and it’s a bigger school than most realize. Her time there also likely overlapped with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who graduated in 1992. Fortunately for her party, this all came out before the primary, and the other candidate will likely get to ride the truth into the general election.

***UPDATE***

I found a LinkedIn profile that appears to be hers, where she indicates she studied at Miami from 1990-94, and then took a job in Chicago after 1994. It’s possible she was just a credit short, and earned a credit to fix it up while she was working as a merchandiser in Chicago… but, it’s suspicious to say the least. I bet she comes out with a statement this week withdrawing, and apologizing saying she was really close but never finished the graduation requirements…

melissa howard

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Convicted Former Judge Tracie Hunter Keeps Trying to Run Again

Tracie Hunter

Former Judge Tracie Hunter

Tracie Hunter was convicted of a felony for misuse of documents while she was a judge: and subsequently removed from the bench. Her conviction was upheld on appeal, and she has a jail sentence hanging over her head unless the Ohio Supreme Court overturns the conviction. On top of that, she has been suspended from the practice of law: a requirement if she were to sit as a judge. She is further ineligible as a felon with a pending jail sentence.

In spite of all these things, she thinks she should still be a judge. She feels so strongly that she has applied to run for a judge seat in the upcoming election. She has applied not once, but twice. The first application to run as a Democrat was rejected, and she recently filed to run a second time, this time as an independent. The disqualifying factors still apply, so there’s no reason to think she’d be eligible to run. But file she has, with thousands of petitions to get on the ballot.

 

Remaining Charges Against Tracie Hunter Dropped

Tracie Hunter

Former Judge Tracie Hunter

The remaining charges against former Hamilton County Judge Tracie Hunter were abruptly dropped at the last minute. In court, just before jury selection, the special prosecutor announced they would be dropping the remaining charges. Some evidence went missing, but apparently the evidence was only relevant to a couple of the remaining eight counts. Hunter’s team has suggested that may have had something to do with the charges being dropped, but the prosecutors deny it. They indicate that it didn’t make sense to go through a second trial, as the first was already an expensive affair.

Hunter is now a convicted felon from the sole charge that she was found guilty of during the first trial. The appellate court recently upheld that conviction, and the timing of that decision just a week or so ago is the most logical explanation for the other charges being dropped now. She can still appeal to the Supreme Court, but unless the decision is overturned, she cannot return to the bench, will likely be disbarred from the practice of law, and will eventually have to serve six months in jail.

Tracie Hunter’s Guilty Verdict Upheld on Appeal

Tracie Hunter

 Former Judge Tracie Hunter

Former Hamilton County Judge Tracie Hunter’s verdict was upheld on appeal yesterday. The 1st District Court of Appeals in Ohio released their decision yesterday. Her attorney disagrees with the verdict, and has indicated they will be appealing to the Ohio Supreme Court.

One of the issues is that the jury was not polled¬†after reading the verdict. Normally, after a verdict is announced in court, the jury is polled to confirm that the verdict was correctly recorded. Hunter’s attorney asked the judge to do so, but he declined, because he had previously had them make an affirmation. The jury reached a verdict on only one count, and the judge received that verdict and they continued deliberating on the other counts. When the judge got the verdict on the one count, which we later found out was ‘guilty’, he asked the jurors for an affirmation… but he never announced what the verdict was that he was having them affirm.

Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if the jurors agreed on the verdict. However, now three of them have signed affidavits that say if they had been polled at the end of the trial, their verdicts would not have been the same. That’s a problem. However, the law in Ohio apparently does not require that the verdict be published before the jury is polled. That seems counter-intuitive: how can the jury affirm the verdict if the judge hasn’t told them what he believe the verdict to be? I will be curious what the Supreme Court says, and if the appeal doesn’t work, whether there could be a post-conviction motion based on the post-trial affidavits mentioned earlier.

Some Officers are Buying Their Own Body Cams

Officer Kidder of New Richmond, Ohio, whose body cam showed his impressive restraint in not using deadly force in his confrontation with a murder suspect, was using his own body cam during the incident. It was apparently given to him by a family member. Apparently, there is a growing trend of officers wanting to have cameras to document their actions, even when the departments don’t provide it. It’s refreshing to see officers who believe in their work and are interested in honestly documenting their interactions.

Again, Crimcourts would encourage more law enforcement agencies to implement body cameras for the protection of the community, and the officers who are doing a good job. Fort Myers has started rolling them out, in spite of a short delay due to union complaints about camera policies, and Cape Coral is doing the same. Kudos to the Cities of Fort Myers and Cape Coral for taking the initiative to introduce body cameras.

Amended Indictment Filed Against Judge Tracie Hunter

Judge Tracie Hunter

Judge Tracie Hunter

The new indictment merely amends the credit card fraud charge that had a technical difficulty the first time around. The Defense will likely attempt to strike this amendment, since it was not proved during the first trial. This seems to indicate that everything is a go for a second trial, probably some time later this year, though the June date will likely be moved, as Hunter plans to try to recuse the judge. The first trial cost taxpayers $460,000. Hunter was found guilty of one count, which she is appealing.

Local Station gets to Air Interview with Alleged Domestic Terrorist

Terror Suspect Christopher Cornell

Terror Suspect Christopher Cornell

20-year-old Christopher Cornell was arrested a few weeks back for buying weapons for a planned attack on the White House and Congress. It was shocking in part, because the young man grew up in suburban Cincinnati, he graduated from the same high school that I did, where he competed on the wrestling team. He is facing multiple federal charges for his terrorism-related activities.

The story took a bizarre twist this week when Cornell contacted the local Fox affiliate, Fox 19, and longtime reporter and anchor Tricia Macke. He gave Macke an interview of about an hour via telephone from his Butler County jail cell. The interview is disturbing: Cornell details that if he had not been arrested, he would have shot the president and set off bombs in the Capitol and near the Israeli embassy. He states explicitly that he bought the guns with the intent of committing the acts.

The admissions are devastating for his defense in the pending criminal action, and his attorney sought to prevent Fox 19 from airing the interview. At issue was a court order from Cornell’s bond hearing that ordered no contact with him. At the hearing, the Defense attorney accused the reporter of criminal contempt for contacting him, although it was Cornell who initiated contact with Fox and Ms. Macke.

The First Amendment grants a great deal of freedom to the press to disseminate information that they have, and even gives Cornell a right to speak his mind. While the statements he made are extremely incriminating and devastating to his defense on the case, he has a right to say them. The court upheld that right and found the no contact order to be vague and unconstitutional. Generally, the court doesn’t have standing to order journalists not to interview news suspects: the initial order was probably more intended to protect Cornell’s right to remain silent. However; it’s his right and he can waive it. Kudos to Fox 19 for standing up for the First Amendment.