July 23, 2019
Chaos erupted Monday in a Cincinnati, Ohio, courtroom after civil rights activists erupted in protest when a former judge had to be dragged out of court after she was ordered to jail.
Tracie Hunter, 52, a former juvenile court judge, has spent the past five years appealing her 2014 conviction and sentence on a felony count of unlawful interest in a public contract.
She was charged with giving her brother a confidential document during a disciplinary procedure involving his court job. In May, a federal judge rejected her final effort to avoid jail.
On Monday, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker ordered Hunter, a Democrat elected in a disputed 2010 election, to start her six-month jail sentence.
When Hunter was ordered removed, she went limp after first reacting with anger. Her supporters erupted and one tried to break through the deputies to get to her. A deputy was shown on video removing Hunter by dragging her away.
“This city is going to burn,” one supporter shouted, WCPO
Demonstrators outside the Hamilton County Courthouse promised more protests, Fox News
During the hearing, Dinkelacker read from postcards sent to his home bearing angry messages in support of Hunter. He said the apparent intimidation attempt “flat-out failed.”
Dinkelacker said no judge should endure what he did.
“I will never, ever, ever bow to that type of pressure,” Dinkelacker said.
Prosecutor Joe Deters wrote a letter to the court that was read at the hearing, saying Hunter has “never once shown remorse.”
“She has been incredibly disrespectful to you and the justice system,” Deters wrote to the judge.
He claimed in his letter that he “believes she has some sort of medical condition.”
“What she wants is to control the facts. What she wants to do is write the law,” said Scott Croswell, who was the special prosecutor during Hunter’s trial in 2014, WLWT
“What she wants to do is play by her own set of rules. 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,” he said.
Defense attorney David Singleton said Hunter already has endured years of uncertainty and lost her job and law license for what he called an unjust conviction and a sentence that is out of proportion.
“She has gotten up each morning not knowing whether that was going to be the day she was going to jail. 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,” he said.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley asked that Hunter be spared serving her jail sentence.
“I appreciate that she has been convicted but serving prison time seems to me to be disproportionate to her crime,” Cranley said in a letter to the court.
Bishop Bobby Hilton, president of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Action Network, said “blacks are not respected” in Hamilton County.
“All we want is fairness, fairness,” Hilton said. “Not special treatment, but fair treatment.”