Pandemonium erupted in the courtroom, as Hunter’s supporters started shouting in protest. One woman crossed the bar and approached the Defense table, where she was restrained by bailiffs. Hunter went limp, and was dragged from the courtroom by one of the bailiffs to the holding area out of the courtroom. Her attorney indicated he’s going to file a motion to dismiss, but that’s unlikely to gain any traction since the normal appeals have been exhausted. Hunter is incarcerated now, being housed in the medical area of the jail, she may be eligible for early release at some point.
Video of the scene in the courtroom is linked below:
Former Hamilton County judge Tracie Hunter was convicted in September of 2014 for having an unlawful interest in a public contract, for using her office to get documents to help her brother. In December of that year, she was sentenced to 6 months in jail, but she has remained free while her appeals and post-conviction cases have been going on. Her direct appeals were denied, upholding the conviction, and her last resort, a federal petition for habeas corpus has been denied, and the stay pending its appeal has now been lifted. She has a hearing July 18 before the Hamilton County Common Pleas court, where she could be ordered to begin serving her sentence. Her attorneys have filed a new motion to waive the jail, saying medical conditions involving her back and her arthritis prevent her from being able to serve a jail sentence, but that is a hail mary attempt to try to get the judge to allow her to remain at liberty… the same judge who ordered that she serve her sentence back in 2016, before the Federal stay went into effect. The chances she can avoid jail much longer are narrowing rapidly.
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.
The 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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.