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Tracie Hunter's new trial scheduled for January

Posted at 1:01 PM, Oct 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-20 13:01:09-04

CINCINNATI –  A year after her first trial ended, convicted judge Tracie Hunter was back in court Tuesday to hear the date for her new trial.

Judge Patrick Dinkelacker set trial for Jan. 19. A pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Dec. 14.

The suspended juvenile court judge faces re-trial on eight felony counts after a jury was hung on those when her emotionally-charged, five-week trial ended Oct. 14, 2014. She was convicted on one count -- unlawful interest in a public contract -- for helping her brother, a county employee, in a disciplinary hearing. 

Hunter has new attorneys, Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Branch. Sirkin is a noted First Amendment attorney who won the famous Mapplethorpe case in 1990. Branch worked with Al Gerhardstein to win the same-sex marriage ruling  from the U.S. Supreme Court this year.

Hunter's attorney in the first trial, Clyde Bennett II, withdrew last month.

Dinkelacker is new to the case, too, after winning election to the common pleas court seat held by Norbert Nadel, who heard Hunter's first trial. Nadel retired because of state age limits.

The other charges against Hunter were forgery, tampering with evidence, unlawful interest in a public contract and theft in office. A new count of theft in office was added last March. Two special prosecutors said she made personal charges on a court-issued credit card, backdated documents to prevent prosecutors from appealing her decisions, and arranged for her brother, a juvenile court jailer, to work overtime.

The Ohio Supreme Court suspended her from the bench upon her conviction. Nadel sentenced her to six months in the Hamilton County Justice Center, but the Ohio high court allowed her to remain free on appeal.

In August, Hunter filed a 53-page complaint that named 19 defendants, including multiple county leaders and attorneys, of violating her civil rights. She has also argued Dinkelacker could not guarantee her a fair trial due to past decisions he made against her when he served in the First District Count of Appeals.