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Former judge Tracie Hunter dragged from courtroom, ordered to serve six-month sentence

Hunter convicted in 2014 for mishandling document
Posted: 6:00 AM, Jul 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-22 20:30:14-04

CINCINNATI — Authorities held a woman back and the crowd screamed as a deputy removed ex-judge Tracie Hunter from the courtroom Monday morning after she was ordered to begin a six-month sentence.

Judge Patrick Dinkelacker executed the sentence despite push back from Hunter's supporters and a letter from the mayor.

Hunter was convicted of mishandling a confidential document in 2014. She has been free since then because she has been appealing.

After Dinkelacker ordered authorities to take her to jail, Hunter appeared to go limp as she stood from her seat, and a deputy dragged her out of the courtroom.

“She passed out,” someone yelled, but Hunter appeared to be conscious. She looked around and flicked her fingers as the deputy dragged her from the courtroom.

"This city is going to burn," someone shouted.

Watch the moment Dinkelacker hands down the decision in the player below. (Warning: The video may contain explicit material.)

At least one person was taken into custody after Dinkelacker handed down the decision, authorities said.

RELATED: Tracie Hunter timeline: Conflict follows judge from election to trial to present

In a letter, Mayor John Cranley asked Dinkelacker to not execute Hunter's sentence.

Cranley said Hunter should not be placed in jail because she’s been punished enough professionally and because she has not committed a violent crime.

“I appreciate that she has been convicted but serving prison time seems to me to be disproportionate to her crime,” Cranley said.

Authorities booked Tracie Hunter into the Hamilton County Justice Center on Monday, July 22, 2019. Hunter will serve a six-month sentence.

Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman also wrote a letter to Dinkelacker asking him not to execute Hunter’s sentence.

Smitherman asked if Dinkelacker imposed the sentence that he would consider a court order that would allow for an early release at Sheriff Jim Neil’s discretion.

Neil said in a written statement his staff would evaluate Hunter's "eligibility for participation in early release programs..."

Prior to Dinkelacker’s decision, he read a letter from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, which said Hunter has never felt remorse and that he believes she has some sort of “mental condition.” Deters asked that Hunter be evaluated before her sentence is executed.

Deters also told WCPO he has asked Governor Mike DeWine to look into commuting Hunter's sentence.

Hunter’s attorney, David Singleton, asked Dinkelacker to not execute the sentence that was imposed and to give Hunter’s attorneys time to file a motion to dismiss the case.

“I would ask you on behalf of Tracie Hunter to end this today for her," Singleton said. "She has had as a result of this case, she’s lost everything."

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.”

Dinkelacker said he has received 45 postcards at his home pressuring him to exonerate Hunter.

Dinkelacker said no judge should have to go through what he has gone through.

“I will never, ever, ever bow to that type of pressure,” Dinkelacker said.

RELATED: Federal judge clears way for Tracie Hunter to serve jail sentence after years-long delay

Attorneys for Hunter have contended the case against her stemmed from politics. The Democrat took the bench after being declared the winner of a disputed 2010 election.

She stood trial on eight other counts that were dismissed after a jury couldn't reach a verdict on them.

Supporters have rallied publicly for allowing her to remain free.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.