Tracie Hunter judge refuses to drop charges

Posted at 7:47 AM, Dec 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-30 09:46:34-05

CINCINNATI – The judge scheduled to hear Tracie Hunter's next trial overruled her motion to drop the remaining charges against her.

Hunter's attorneys had argued that the former juvenile court judge has been the victim of "vindictive prosecution" in retaliation for rulings she made against the prosecutor's office.

Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, in a three-sentence ruling, called the motion "not well taken."

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 that those defendants, including Dinkelacker, could not guarantee her a fair trial due to past decisions made against her.

Two special prosecutors plan to retry Hunter next month on eight counts of forgery, tampering with evidence, unlawful interest in a public contract and theft in office. Hunter went on trial in September  2014 on nine felony counts of judicial misconduct. Five weeks later, a jury convicted her of one - unlawful interest in a public contract for helping her brother, a juvenile court jailer, in a disciplinary hearing.

The jury could not reach a decision on the other eight counts, which accused Hunter of making personal charges on a court-issued credit card, backdating documents to prevent prosecutors from appealing her decisions, and arranging for her brother  to work overtime.

Last week the Board of Elections turned down Hunter's request to run in 2016 for her open seat on the juvenile court bench. The board ruled Hunter was ineligible because the Ohio Supreme Court has suspended her law license. Hunter would become eligible if she wins her appeal on her conviction, the board said.

Upon her conviction, Judge Norbert Nadel sentenced Hunter to six months in the Hamilton County Justice Center, but the Ohio high court allowed her to remain free on appeal.

Hunter's trial is set to begin Jan. 19. She will be represented by First Amendment and criminal defense attorney Louis Sirkin and Jennifer Branch, who worked with Al Gerhardstein to win the same-sex marriage ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court this year. Hunter's attorney from the first trial, Clyde Bennett II, withdrew in September.