Tracie Hunter: Don't let 'bogus' conviction stop me from running for re-election, voting

Posted at 3:40 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 17:38:30-04

CINCINNATI -- Tracie Hunter is certain she's going to be vindicated. So certain, in fact, she thinks Hamilton County elections officials should let her run for judge again.

The four-member Board of Elections didn't see it the same way, voting unanimously Tuesday morning that she was ineligible to run as a write-in candidate in November.

TIMELINE: Hunter's trials and tribulations

Two years ago, a jury hearing nine counts of judicial misconduct against Hunter convicted her of one -- unlawful interest in a public contract -- for helping her brother, a county employee, in a disciplinary hearing. The jury did not reach a unanimous decision on the other counts, and they were dismissed in January.

Hunter, now suspended from her role as juvenile court judge, has remained free thanks to a stay of sentence issued by Federal Judge Timothy Black in May. In their federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Hunter's attorneys claim misconduct by special prosecutor Scott Croswell III and errors by Judge Norbert Nadel violated Hunter's constitutional rights during her trial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court in October 2014. They also claim the appellate court misapplied federal law when it upheld her conviction on a felony charge.


Hunter, elected as a Democrat, told the bipartisan Board of Elections Tuesday morning that she'd ultimately be cleared of any guilt, and that a felony conviction didn't necessarily mean she couldn't run for office. Instead, she argued she simply needed to have the felony cleared up after her re-election.

"And at some particular point after this case is reviewed, I have no doubt that if the law is followed, that the bogus conviction is going to be overturned, and so I should not be denied the opportunity to run for the seat that I currently hold as a Hamilton County juvenile court judge," she said.

Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman Tim Burke, one of four members of the elections board, said an independent attorney in Columbus disagreed. And the other Democrat on the panel, Hamilton County Democratic Party executive director Caleb Faux, said he had concerns about the case's history and Hunter's prosecution.

"But at this stage, Judge Hunter is not eligible to be a candidate or for that matter to vote in this election," Faux said.

Watch Tuesday's entire hearing:


Hunter told reporters afterward she might pursue legal action; she declined to share specifically what her next move might be, saying those who oppose her might try to counter that move before it even happens. Tuesday's hearing, she said, was simply a formality.

"Tim Burke, as chairman of the board, had pretty much made it clear through recent actions that he had taken that they had planned not to certify my candidacy today as a write-in," she said.

Hunter also told reporters she believed the Board of Elections was denying her rights.

"The fact of the matter is that the Ohio Revised Code, one, qualifies me as an elector, and number two, qualifies me to run for re-election for the seat that I still hold as the Hamilton County juvenile court judge," Hunter said.

The state has to file its briefs in her federal case by late October; Hunter said her team's briefs would then be due in late November, after the election.