Former Ohio judge Tracie Hunter dragged out of courtroom amid protests to begin 6-month jail sentence for illegally helping her brother keep his job
A former judge accused of illegally passing confidential documents had to be dragged out of the courtroom at her sentence hearing after she went completely limp. Former Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter was sentenced to six months in jail after she was found guilty of illegally passing confidential documents to her brother in a job dispute when he faced a disciplinary hearing and would potentially get fired. Tracie was convicted in 2014 of the felony — unlawful interest in a public contract.
Tracie's brother, Stephen Hunter had allegedly hit an offender during an arrest in 2013. She had passed on documents to her brother when he was supposed to be fired, in hopes that she could help him keep the job. Her brother had been working in his office for seven years before she even became a judge, she said. Tracie has maintained her innocence.
"I violated no laws, I did not secure a public contract, I did not secure employment for my brother who worked for the court for about seven years before I was elected judge. They need to drop these unrighteous and, I believe, unlawful charges against me," Hunter told NBC.
The video from the hearing showed Tracie looking terrified as she waited for Judge Patrick Dinkelacker to dole out her sentence. Then, after her sentence is read, a protestor runs towards her and chaos breaks out in the courtroom.
Before the sentencing, David Singleton, Tracie's defense attorney pleaded to the court to dismiss the sentence. "I ask you on behalf of Tracie Hunter to end this today. She's lost everything. She's lost a lot," he said, "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.
Tracie, looking dazed, fell limp when an officer tried to take her away and had to be dragged out of the courtroom. There have been protests going on Cincinnati about her sentencing and protestors also rallied outside Dinkelacker's home claiming she was being treated unfairly because she was black. "We're out here because she's not here," said Iris Roley of the Cincinnati Black United Front, who was a part of protests outside the judge's home. "She’s locked up for a nonviolent charge, and taxpayers ought to be up in arms about it."
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who had asked for leniency ahead of the sentencing and stated he felt she had been punished enough for the incident that occurred in 2014, had recommended that she be kept out of jail. "It is in the best interests of the city that Ms. Hunter not be placed in prison," Cranley had said. Ninth District State Sen. Cecil Thomas also said that putting her away was going to cost the city. "She's being held and as long as she's in there the city is going to pay a price. The county, the region is going to pay a price," Thomas said.
Tracie was the first-ever African American elected to Hamilton County's Juvenile Court in 2010. The prosecutors had insisted that she wanted to write the law and control it, especially Scott Croswell, who was a special prosecutor during Hunter's trial in 2014. "What she wants to do is play by her own set of rules," Croswell said. "That's the very attitude and the very conduct that put her in the predicament that she's in and, frankly, has caused all this pain to her and caused all this turmoil to the community."
Tracie, who has spoken about her health issues owing to a car accident in her past will be housed at the medical facility of the Justice Center.