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.
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.
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.
Judge Norbert Nadel has sentenced former Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter to 6 months of incarceration for her felony conviction. According to Cincinnati.com’s Kimball Perry, she can serve in the detention center so she doesn’t have to go to prison, and she can turn herself in after Christmas. Her attorney has asked to stay the sentence pending the outcome of the appeal. That’s not an unreasonable request, as there are certainly some major issues to be dealt with on appeal, such as the jurors trying to go back on their verdicts. That motion will be heard at a later time. Nadel felt that incarceration was appropriate, even as a first time offense, due to the position of trust as an elected official.
The jury in the trial of Judge Tracie Hunter has found her guilty on one count, but could not reach a unanimous verdict on the other counts, resulting in a hung jury. The count she was found guilty of was for Having an Unlawful Interest in a Public Contract: essentially for getting public employees to get restricted documents to help her brother, a juvenile court employee who was facing termination from his job. The charge is a felony, which means Hunter is suspended without pay, and will effectively cause her to be removed from the bench, pending the appeal in the case. The charge carries a presumption of probation, but she could be facing up to 18 months in prison.
The hung jury on the other counts means that she could be tried again. That decision will probably be announced by prosecutors some time in the future. Obviously she will appeal the conviction, which will take some time: sentencing on the guilty count is set for Dec. 2.