The Justice Paradox: Abuse of Power and Selective Prosecution

Cincinnati, OH- December 10, 2014Ghandi once said, “The True Measure of Any Society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.  This statement couldn’t be truer of the U.S. during this defining moment in history…a time where citizens across this country are mobilizing across racial and ethnic groups and across age and political persuasions to fight injustice.  Some argue that the issues we are currently witnessing as a nation are not about race, others argue that they are clearly about racial injustice and white privilege.  The one thing I believe we can all agree on is that we have a problem.  And, as I see it…the problem is abuse of power and selective prosecution. 

The entire nation has watched in horror as injustices directed at African-Americans have been carried out across this nation.  We have witnessed the killings of unarmed black men and boys at the hands of the police and vigilante citizens.  We have also witnessed police beatings of black women from college professors on their way home from work to homeless women crossing busy roads.  We have literally watched America become a war zone, reflective of the 1960’s racial unrest and Civil Rights Movement.

The arguments advanced by Prosecutors and Grand Juries in the police killings of two African American’s, 43 year old Eric Garner and 18 year old Michael Brown, was that they were doing something wrong and thereby subsequently contributed to their own deaths. Eric Garner, a father of six children, who was choked to death by police officers in Staten Island, New York in July of this year, was accused of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. Michael Brown, a college bound student who was shot by police officers in Ferguson, Missouri was later accused of stealing cigarillos.  Neither stealing nor selling cigarettes/ cigars carries the death penalty in the U.S., but both men were mercilessly executed.  Incidentally, the officer in the Brown case was not even aware that any crime had occurred when he executed the teen.  In both cases grand juries have made the decision not to indict the police officers that were responsible for the killings. 

The best examples of abuse of power and the racial implications can be found in Ohio, where two black males were gunned down by police officers for carrying toy guns in an open carry state.  One victim was Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black child in Cleveland, Ohio, who was gunned down on November 22, 2014, while playing with a toy gun on a playground; the other was John Crawford, a young black male resident of Cincinnati, Ohio who was executed in a Walmart store in Beavercreek, Ohio.  Crawford was also carrying a toy gun, presumably with the intent to purchase it for his child.  Crawford was shot in cold blood, while still shopping in the department store.  Both incidents were caught on tape and in plain view for the world to see the killings of these innocent black males.  Yet, in the Crawford case the Grand Jury made the decision not to bring charges against the officer who shot him.  The case of the 12-year old is still pending investigation.

The most blatantly abusive of all of the recent cases is the case of Judge Tracie Marie Hunter, the first black and the first Democrat Judge, in Juvenile Court in Cincinnati, Ohio, who was recently publicly lynched in court and in the media, at the hands of the same rogue Prosecutors who chose not to prosecute John Crawford’s killer.  This lynching has been almost completely ignored by the national media, but the commonality between all of the aforementioned police shootings and the lynching of Judge Hunter is the abuse of prosecutorial power and selective prosecution.

Unlike the incidents of police killings, Judge Hunter’s life has been spared. However, her character has been assassinated, her good name has been ruined, and her career has been slaughtered!  Hunter awaits the December 29th date that she is to surrender her freedom for an incarceration sentence of six-months, 1-year of probation, and fines and court costs for trumped up charges and crimes she clearly did not commit!

Prior to Judge Hunter being brought up on 9 frivolous criminal charges. Joe Deters, the Hamilton County prosecutor, and his Republican political cronies began a series of politically motivated attacks on Judge Hunter. These attacks began with the filing of an unprecedented 30 frivolous lawsuits commencing upon her taking her seat as Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge. During Hunter’s trial, witnesses testified that the Attorney’s were instructed to files lawsuits against Hunter and that the Ohio Supreme Court told the Prosecutor’s office “to keep an eye on her”.  These attacks were so pervasive that Judge Hunter found herself spending countless hours working late evenings to defend herself against countless frivolous lawsuits.  When she filed ethics charges against Deters, stating that, “Acting in his role as Hamilton County Prosecutor, he was “suing” her and “representing” her at the same time”.  This demonstrated a clear conflict of interest, and Deters was required by The Ohio Supreme Court to recuse himself.

Deters’ personal divorce attorneys, Croswell and Shriverdecker, were then appointed to prosecute Judge Hunter in the criminal proceedings.   These “Prosecutor” appointees subsequently refused to deliver any “discovery” documents that were requested by Hunter during her trial, despite the fact that she was legally entitled to the documents for her defense. Presiding and retiring Judge Norbert Nadel, and both Special Prosecutors were contributors to Deters political campaign for Prosecutor and have essentially operated as his proxies in this case. On two occasions before and during the trial, Judge Hunter was denied the right to have the trial moved to a different venue where she could get a fair trial.  Judge Nadel also refused to recuse himself, despite the fact that Nadel is Hunter’s judicial peer and the law precludes him from legally presiding over her trial.  

These charges were maliciously and vindictively brought against Judge Hunter by Prosecutor Joe Deters, in an attempt to nullify the votes of over 120,000 constituents and remove her from the bench. Hunter was accused of over nine crimes and only one stuck, and to get that one to stick, she was subjected to a biased and secretive grand jury process and a non-randomly selected jury, made up of friends, neighbors, spouses and legal representatives of her political foes.  Several jurors admitted at the start of the trial stated that they “couldn’t be fair and impartial”, however they were not removed from the jury. Hunter was also denied a jury of her peers as 6 black jurors in a row were dismissed. Judge Nadel dismissed many of them for cause, who appeared to be helping the Special Prosecutors in an effort to dismiss jurors for no arguable reason, other than the fact that they were black.

Nadel also refused to poll the jurors at the request of Hunter’s Attorney, after the verdict was read.  Three jurors came forward and signed affidavits to say that the “guilty verdict” was not their true and accurate verdict. One of the jurors signed an affidavit saying that she was pressured to vote guilty by the jury forewoman Kirkham. Judge Hunter’s motion’s for a new trial based on failure to poll the jury in open court and based on juror misconduct were both denied.  The community watched in horror as Judge Hunter suffered at the hands of a tainted jury and a corrupt presiding Judge, who caused Judge Hunter to be denied numerous constitutional rights, as well as her rights to a fair trial and due process. 

Prosecutor Joseph Deters’ mother-in-law, Judge Sylvia Hendon, and other political foes are Judges in the First District Court of Appeals of Hamilton County, and there has been a clear political bias against Judge Hunter at the Appellate Court and the Ohio Supreme Court, as evidenced by their mishandling of her formal complaints and denial of requests for legal assistance.  Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters and his cronies have openly and pompously demonstrated how the grand jury, the jury selection process, and the media can be used to nullify the votes of over 120,000 citizens who elected Hunter and placed her in office.

Perhaps all of us need to be questioning just how it is that a woman who was PROTECTING 30,000 of the most vulnerable children and families in our society, can be found guilty of crimes and given a jail sentence, fines, and court costs, while cops who are guilty of KILLING children and gunning down the innocent, can go free and not so much as even be charged for their crimes?  There is clearly a contradiction with our system of justice!  It appears that Hunter has become a victim of the political and racial crossfire in the American Injustice System.

While U.S. police forces, judicial authorities, and Prosecutor’s across the country have effectively waged war on domestic citizens and have imprisoned more black men today than were enslaved in 1850, it was announced December 5th that The Chinese have just won the economic war, surpassing the U.S. output by .2 trillion dollars.  In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “In a real sense (in this case, real GDP) all life is inter-related.  All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”.  United we stand! Divided we fall!  We have the opportunity in this defining moment to rewrite history and to redefine the America we want to be.  Now is when we get to choose to either be a nation of lawless rogues on our way to third world status, or to be a nation that lives out the true meaning of our creed, that “All men (and women) are created equal” and are entitled to equal protection under the law!  If we are going to prosper as a nation, mass incarceration cannot be our largest industry.


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Vanessa Enoch, Ph.D. student, Union Institute & University

 (513) 549-4622