Press Release

Hundreds turned out at a Call-to-Action meeting in support of Judge Tracie Hunter

Cincinnati, OH – June 25, 2019 – Hundreds turned out at a Call-to-Action meeting in support of Judge Tracie Hunter on Saturday, June 2. Several Civil Rights organizations organized the event after Former Republican federal court judge, Timothy Black upheld a five-year-old conviction of Judge Tracie Hunter. Black lifted the stay and ruled against Judge Hunter on May 29, 2019, on a conviction for securing a public contract, despite the fact that there was no evidence to convict her of the charge, and the only three black jurors on the case said that guilty was not their verdict. Judge Hunter who is the pastor of a church in Cincinnati, and is the sole caregiver for her aging mother has been sentenced to a six-month jail sentence. She is scheduled to report for execution of sentencing on July 22.

The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County, composed of members from Interdenominational Ministry Alliance, the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, Cincinnati National Action Network, The Black United Front, SCLC, the Nation of Islam, The Church Collaborative, Concerned Citizens for Justice, Community Church of Cincinnati, and numerous other churches and organizations planned the Call-to-Action event to provide the community with an opportunity to share their ideas and express their concerns. After hearing from Judge Hunter, Senator Thomas, and the leadership of the civil rights organizations, strategy teams were formed to discuss ideas for ensuring justice for Judge Hunter and the children, whose constitutional rights she was fighting for.

Hunter is the first African-American and first Democrat to become Juvenile Court Judge in Hamilton County’s 110-year history.  She won her seat after a heated 18 month court battle and numerous appeals by the Hamilton County Board of Elections, which refused to count more than 800 votes from majority Democrat and black precincts.  When Hunter learned that the votes were disqualified after poll workers sent voters to the wrong precinct, she filed a lawsuit to have those votes counted. The federal court ruled in her favor and compelled the Board of Elections to count the votes.

An unprecedented 30 lawsuits were filed against her by her Republican adversaries in retaliation in less than 9 months on the bench. Prosecutor Joe Deters, who had fought Hunter in the Board of Elections lawsuit, accused her of crimes after she filed ethics charges against him with the Ohio Supreme Court. Deters subsequently alleged that Hunter had committed 10 felony charges, and he recommended his personal criminal defense and divorce attorneys to prosecute Hunter, giving them a million dollar no bid contract. These charges were a successful ploy by Deters to keep Hunter off the bench for the majority of her six-year term, so that John Williams, a former Republican prosecutor and past Director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, could unilaterally control the Juvenile Court. 

In the criminal trial, Judge Hunter faced a jury composed of friends, neighbors, attorneys, and wives of her political foes.  The composition of the jury pool and other jury improprieties uncovered in Hunter’s case raise considerable suspicion. Hunter’s appeals attorney found over 51 instances where the special prosecutors violated her right to a fair trial. She was also denied judicial immunity, which should have protected her from having to stand trial for charges that arose out of her administrative duties as judge.

The judge in the case refused a motion for a retrial after he refused to poll the jury, in clear violation of the law and at the request of Hunter’s Attorney.  At the close of trial, three jurors came forward and said that their true verdict was not guilty, and if Judge Norbert Nadel had polled the jury, they would have said so.  Hunter was convicted on one of the 10 charges. She lost her appeal to the court where Prosecutor Deters’ Mother-in-law, Sylvia Hendon served as presiding judge.

While the Special Prosecutors sought to again to retry the charges pursuant the mistrial, Judge Hunter’s attorneys discovered that Republican officials in the juvenile court destroyed computer evidence that could have exonerated her. After this discovery, the Special Prosecutors dropped the nine remaining charges.

In August 2017, reporter James McNair broke a story showing that the Cincinnati Hamilton County Prosecutor, Joe Deters and son of Governor Mike Dewine and Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Pat Dewine had engaged in the same conduct for which they had falsely brought charges and convicted Judge Hunter. State Senator, Cecil Thomas referred the case to the Republican dominated Ohio Supreme Court Disciplinary Committee, which ultimately chose not to bring charges against the pair.

The Prosecutor’s Office and several Republican judges have participated in the political takedown of Judge Hunter. The denial of the right of blacks to serve as Common Pleas judges in Ohio has been pervasive and has led to the denial of fair trials, mistreatment, and mass incarceration of blacks, especially juveniles who are not entitled to legal representation in Ohio’s courts. The privatized juvenile justice system receives about $220,000 per year per child to incarcerate a juvenile. Over 92% of the incarcerated children were black during the time Hunter served. Having a fair system would significantly reduce the profit margins of privatized prison entities.


For more information contact:

Dr. Vanessa Enoch, Ph.D., MBA

Contributor to the Cincinnati Herald

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