Why Did Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter End Up in Jail?

Tracie Hunter, then a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge, was indicted on multiple felony charges by a Hamilton County grand jury.

Chaos in the courtroom as former judge Tracie Hunter sentenced to 6 months in jail

Originally Published: July 22, 2019 |  Republished by LIT: Nov. 29, 2020

Chaos erupted in the courtroom as Judge Patrick Dinkelacker executed the jail sentence Monday for former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter.

Hunter was sentenced to six months minus one day in the Hamilton County Justice Center. She was also given one year of community control.

Last week, an appeals court rejected her request for a stay, returning the case to Hamilton County.

Hunter was convicted in 2014 of unlawful interest in a public contract, a felony.

She was accused of giving confidential records to her brother, a juvenile court employee who was in the process of being fired.

In court Monday morning, Judge Dinkelacker read a letter from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters that stated Hunter has “never once shown remorse” and he “believes she has some sort of medical condition.” Deters suggested she receive a medical evaluation.

Explosion of emotion when Tracie Hunter sentenced to jail

Hunter’s attorney, David Singleton, said he didn’t think asking for the evaluation was appropriate.

“I can’t believe Deters would ask for her to be evaluated. There is no issue whatsoever about her not being competent or understanding. Absolutely not,” he said.

Singleton asked the judge not to impose her sentence during the hearing.

“She has gotten up each morning not knowing whether that was going to be the day she was going to jail,” he said. “I know the impact that this has had on her life. We believe it would be profoundly unjust and unfair and a waste of taxpayer dollars to incarcerate her even for a minute.”

The judge declined the evaluation.

Dinkelacker pointed out he received many anonymous postcards, written by Hunter supporters, that were sent to his home.

Seven of them started with “I’m a registered voter and charges should be dropped now.”

He spoke to the people who wrote the postcards and said their attempt to intimidate him failed. Dinkelacker also stated some of the writings “were not very Christian.”

Before Dinkelacker imposed her sentence, Singleton asked to speak before the court.

“I ask you on behalf of Tracie Hunter to end this today. She’s had… she’s lost everything. She’s lost a lot. Her job, her ability to earn an income. She’s lost peace of mind. My request to you, judge, is to give us time to file a motion to dismiss. Please don’t add to Tracie Hunter’s burden,” he said.

State attorney Scott Croswell also addressed the court about Hunter’s lack of remorse.

Former judge Tracie Hunter in jail

“I came here today with the intention of saying nothing. But based on the arguments made today… she has no remorse and continues to lash out,” he said. “What she wants to do is control the facts and write the law. And that’s the very attitude and conduct that brought her here today.”

Hunter, who was given an opportunity to speak during the hearing, interrupted while Dinkelacker was reading over the history of the case and walked up to the podium.

Dinkelacker reminded Hunter that he gave her a chance to speak earlier which she declined. He then denied her chance to speak and imposed the sentence.

Chaos broke out while the sentence was being read. Hunter went limp and had to be dragged from the courtroom.

Moments after the judge handed down Hunter’s sentence, a woman wearing a ‘justice for Hunter’ shirt appeared to lunge toward Hunter. court officials say she is Vivian Rogers and she was cited with contempt, found guilty, and released from jail.

Supporters of Hunter were gathered outside of the court house during the hearing. Many were yelling “No justice. No peace.”

Hunter was immediately booked into the Hamilton County Justice Center.

Sheriff Jim Neil said Hunter’s personal well-being is his number one priority.

“As sheriff, Ms. Hunter’s personal well-being and safety will be my number one priority while in the Justice Center. Ms. Hunter will be housed in the medical facility within the Justice Center, where she will be constantly monitored by security staff and medical professionals,” he said.

Dinkelacker gave Hunter credit for one day in prison for her sentence.

On Sunday Hunter posted:

“I will continue to fight until my name has been 100 percent cleared of all charges and I am fully exonerated and restored of all that was stolen from me.”

What did former Judge Tracie Hunter do? An explainer and timeline

Originally Published: July 24, 2019 |  Republished by LIT: Nov. 29, 2020

A six-month jail sentence was imposed on former judge Tracie Hunter earlier this week. This is how we got here:

January 2014

Tracie Hunter, then a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge, is indicted on multiple felony charges by a Hamilton County grand jury. Among the accusations: Hunter backdated documents to prevent prosecutors from appealing her decisions against them and improperly used her position as judge to give confidential documents to her brother, a juvenile court employee who was in the process of getting fired.

October 2014

A jury convicts Hunter of a single count related to giving confidential documents to her brother. Jurors are unable to agree on verdicts on the other eight counts she faces. The remaining charges are later dropped.

Dec. 5, 2014

Judge Norbert Nadel sentences Hunter to six months in jail.

Dec. 26, 2014

The Ohio Supreme Court allows Hunter to remain out of jail while she pursues appeals.

April 2015

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor denies Hunter’s request to remove Judge Patrick Dinkelacker from the case.

September 2015

At a tense hearing before Dinkelacker, Hunter’s attorney Clyde Bennett II says he can no longer represent her.

Hunter then addresses Dinkelacker, listing reasons why he should disqualify himself from the case.

She brings up a 2013 fatal crash involving the judge, whose car was one of two vehicles that struck a woman – who had high levels of cocaine in her system – who was in the middle of a city street.

Dinkelacker tells her not to bring up the incident again, saying: “It’s inappropriate. It’s hurtful. And I think it’s spiteful.”

January 2016

A state appeals court decision upholds Hunter’s conviction.

May 2016

A day before Dinkelacker is scheduled to impose Hunter’s jail sentence, a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black, issues an emergency stay of her sentence.

Hunter’s attorneys had filed a federal habeas corpus petition, arguing she didn’t get a fair trial because of mistakes by the judge and misconduct by the special prosecutors who handled the case.

At a court hearing, Dinkelacker calls the stay “an overreach by a federal judge.”

May 2017

A federal magistrate judge recommends denying Hunter’s challenge to her conviction. Black must make the final decision.

May 29, 2019

Two years after the magistrate judge’s recommendation, Black, in a 26-page decision, says Hunter’s sentence can be imposed. He says strong evidence against Hunter undermines her “claim that the verdict was a result of the inflammatory and prejudicial effect of remarks made by the special prosecutor during closing argument.”

Monday, July 22, 2019

An execution of sentence hearing is set for 9 a.m. in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court.

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Why Did Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter End Up in Jail?
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