CINCINNATI -- Judge Tracie Hunter responded Tuesday to allegations against her, saying a juvenile judge, the Prosecutor's Office and the Public Defender's Office have misled the Ohio Supreme Court during an investigation into her courtroom.
Two special prosecutors are set to investigate allegations from the county prosecutor’s office that someone in Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s courtroom may have committed crimes by deliberately backdating court documents.
The investigation appears to stem from a Sept. 13 memo from Bill Breyer, Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, which suggests someone backdated documents in two cases last month to block the prosecutor from appealing Hunter’s orders in the time the law allows.
In his memo to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, Breyer explained that the suspected backdating came to light as his office sought to address problems of “getting timely notice of the filing of final appealable orders” from Hunter’s courtroom.
“As a result, we have tried to make periodic checks of the docket in cases where we believe we have meritorious appeal. During this process we have recently identified two cases in which it appears appealable cases have been backdated.”
In those cases, Breyer said, an affidavit from the court’s software provider attests that one document had been backdated from Aug. 22 to July 22, and the other from Aug. 19 to Aug. 12.
“The way the Juvenile Court system functions … required a deliberate act through the use of a date override function on the Juvenile Court’s IT system,” Breyer’s memo said.
The backdating prevented prosecutors from responding to Hunter’s orders, Breyer said.
Hunter cites a "disproportionate caseload" and a previous history of the Juvenile Court being backlogged with cases as ignored factors in the allegations.
"It is disturbing that the Prosecutor's Office and the Public Defender's Office were aware that I was prohibited from ruling in several pending cases when those lawsuits were brought against me as Judge. The Prosecutors Officer knew months ago, when they were representing me, that by law I could not render rulings in those cases. The First District Court of Appeals should have also been made aware of become aware of the status of those cases," state Hunter in a release.
Hunter also claims Juvenile Court Judge John Williams sent inaccurate documents to the Ohio Supreme Court of cases to be "beyond time." Hunter argued those specific cases were not "out of time" but rather the issue stemmed from inaccuracies with the court's reporting system.
"Attorneys long familiar with the issues facing Juvenile Court have expressed that it is no secret that cases have been pending beyond time guidelines in Juvenile Court for many years," said Hunter.
Hunter said she sent a response to the Ohio Supreme Court with a complete history of all cases that Williams alleged were overdue on Sept. 9, 2013.
Hunter's full statement is listed below.
Reporting from Greg Noble, WCPO used in this report.