Prosecution rests and defense drops bombshell in Judge Tracie Hunter case

Cincinnati, OH- September 28, 2014After two and a half weeks of testimony by only a few witnesses, the prosecution has rested its case in the trial of Judge Tracie M. Hunter.  The trial has had the grandeur of a murder trial and a plot akin to a poorly constructed Perry Mason episode or a 2014 remake of Much Ado About Nothing. 

Despite the pomp and circumstance, each of the nine felony charges against the first term judge have unraveled and the prosecution’s case has gone down the drain, along with Hamilton County taxpayers’ money. When asked about the likely cost of the case during pretrial hearings, the prosecutor’s office admitted that they had not yet negotiated a fee. It appears that prosecutor Joe Deters, handed special prosecutors Merlyn Shiverdecker and Scott Crosswell, III a blank check to bring frivolous charges against Hunter.

Defense attorney Clyde Bennett, II, who used the prosecutor’s own witnesses to skillfully dismantle the prosecution’s case, said that the charges amounted to “a personal vendetta and prosecutorial vindictiveness” towards a judge who refused to “give up her seat”.  Assistant prosecutor James T. Harper admitted that he and Joe Deters were upset when Hunter filed grievances against them with the Ohio Supreme Court. “It is the worst thing that can happen to an attorney”, Harper stated.  But, the biggest bombshell in this case comes as defense attorney Clyde Bennett put his first witness on the stand, Hunter’s case manager, Lisa Miller.

Miller testified that case management supervisor Connie Murdock, gave her directives to change the language of one of Hunter’s rulings in the courts computer system.  This is particularly disturbing, as Miller also admitted that Hunter’s ruling in the Q.O. case, one of two cases for which Hunter has been charged, is different in the court’s case management system than Judge Hunter’ s ruling in the case. For this to occur, a different judicial entry would have to have been created by someone other than Hunter, and her signature forged on that document and entered in the system; as it defies logic that Hunter would sign an entry that opposes her actual decision. Miller acknowledged that she created the entry that appears in the system, but said she did not know why the journal query which is an exact match of the judicial entry are different.   Modifying a judge’s decision could constitute a serious criminal offense.

According to Proware software executive, it was Miller’s login that was used to backdate court entries in both the A.C. and Q.O. cases, not Hunter’s. Miller testified to the same. Prosecutor Scott Crosswell became unglued and stood up and began yelling at judge Norbert Nadel, when presiding judge Nadel allowed Miller to read a note from Murdock instructing her to change Judge Hunter’s language in the system.

Crosswell indicated that the accusation that Hunter backdated court documents was the most egregious of all of the offenses of which Hunter was charged. During pre-trial hearings special prosecutor Crosswell said that if Bennett could show him “one incident where anyone else backdated documents, I will prosecute them as well”.  Attorney Bennett suggested that not only did Hunter not backdate the two entries in the D.M. and A.C. cases, but those who did might have done it to cover up a greater offense.

Katherine Pridemore, the prosecutions star witness and also an employee of the prosecutor’s office, demonstrated the strength of Bennett’s claim that the prosecutor’s office wanted Hunter off the bench by any means necessary. Pridemore became unraveled as she railed against Hunter, pointing her finger at Hunter and gnashing her teeth, “I lived and breathed your client.  Everyone in the prosecutors office knew that she stepped all over the law!” Under oath, Pridemore testified that the Ohio Supreme Court assigned her to investigate Hunter. In an email we received on Friday, John VanNorman of the Ohio Supreme Court denies that they ever conducted an investigation of Judge Hunter.

Pridemore also alleged that Hunter backdated the entries in an attempt to prevent prosecutor Joe Deters’ office from overruling her decision in the D.M. and the A.C. cases.  But, now that it is clear that Hunter did not backdate the documents and one of Hunter’s significant rulings were in fact deleted from the system, the lingering question is why was the prosecutor’s office so concerned with insuring that these particular decisions got overturned?

Anxious to appeal Hunter’s decisions in both cases, Prosecutor Deters office appealed Hunter’s rulings before they became final appealable orders. At issue in both the D.M. and A.C. cases is a child’s constitutional right to discovery evidence, prior to a bindover probable case hearing.  Hunter ordered the defense attorney to provide these forms for in-camera inspection to protect the rights of accused children, however the prosecutor’s office refused to turn over the discovery, which included the full Arrest and Investigation Report (Form 527), and the Incident Report (Form 301).

In the D.M. case, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld Hunter’s ruling that all discovery evidence must be turned over and an in-camera inspection may be conducted if prosecutors believe any information in the reports would need to be redacted.  The ruling affirming Hunter’s decision to turn over police reports is now law in all courts across Ohio.

While it appears that these charges were maliciously and vindictively brought against Hunter, it is important to note that the D.M. and A.C. cases may also be a cause for sore blood.  These cases changed Ohio law and forces prosecutors to provide information to defense that enables a child to better defend themselves.

The accusation that Hunter committed crimes may have been the perfect smoke screen to distract the public from learning of the real crimes committed by others in Juvenile Court who backdated judicial entries and changed Hunter’s judicial rulings. During Hunter’s time on the bench, she uncovered and began correcting many improprieties within the Juvenile Court. She was dedicated to rehabilitating children. Removing Hunter from the bench allowed the Juvenile Court and prosecutor’s office to cover up what Hunter exposed.

Bishop Bobby Hilton is calling for a massive protest rally and press conference on Hamilton County courthouse steps at noon on Monday, September 29th.  Prosecutor Joe Deters office handled the Hunter case and also acted as special prosecutors in handling the grand jury proceedings in the homicide of John Crawford, who was gunned down by the officer while he was holding a toy gun he intended to purchase at the Walmart store in Beavercreak, Ohio.


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

You Got the Power Enterprises, Inc.

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