Our Wacky Friday case is a doozy under the #BadJudge heading. Judge Dawn Gentry, who presides in Northern Kentucky, just outside Cincinnati, has been accused of nine ethical violations. She apparently plays in a band called ‘South of Cincy’, and had an affair with her guitarist. That’s not what got her into trouble. Gentry allegedly pressured an attorney that served on a panel with her to sleep with Gentry’s husband so she could accuse him of infidelity. She allegedly later pressured the attorney to have a threesome with she and her bandmate-lover, and that when she refused the friendship went sour. However, the judge apparently did have a threesome at the courthouse with her own secretary. She is also accused of flirting with attorneys, pressuring them for campaign contributions, and of giving preferential treatment to those who did donate.
*Update: Strike that non-concern about criminal sanctions. Further reading indicates there are also allegations of timesheet falsifications. That’s something that could lead to theft/fraud/corruption charges.
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.
Officer Jessie Kidder, of New Richmond, Ohio, deserves a medal of some sort. A double murder suspect led police on a chase, with an intent to commit suicide by cop. When he was stopped by Ofc. Kidder, he approached the officer aggressively, asking the officer to shoot him, and threatening the officer. There is no doubt that in light of the circumstances Kidder would have been justified in using deadly force to defend himself. But he demonstrated extreme restraint, and it turned out that no force was necessary, as the suspect surrendered when backup arrived.
The entire incident is documented on a body cam video. Amazingly, the camera was not provided by the department, but by Kidder himself (it was a gift from family). Had he needed to use deadly force, the video would have proven him justified. Fortunately, he was able to resolve the incident without killing the man. The video is on the WLWT website, and it is dramatic.
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.
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.