Prosecution rests and defense drops bombshell in Judge Tracie Hunter case

Cincinnati, OH- September 26, 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 all 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 present frivolous charges against Hunter.

Defense attorney Clyde Bennett, II, who has 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’s 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.  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.  The modification of this particular language significantly alters Hunter’s ruling.  Modifying a judge’s decision could constitute a serious criminal offense on the part of Murdock. According to Proware software executive, it was Miller’s login that was used to backdate court entries, not Hunter’s.

While questioning Miller, Bennett suggested that Hunter would never have signed a document overturning her own ruling.  So Hunter’s signature on this document gives the appearance of impropriety and lends itself to the possibility that Hunter’s signature may have been forged.  

Crosswell indicated that the accusation that Hunter backdated court documents was the most egregious of all of the offenses of which Hunter was charged. 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 and gnashing her teeth, “I lived and breathed your client.  Everyone in the prosecutors office knew that Hunter stepped all over the law!” While under oath, Pridemore testified that directives to investigate Hunter came from the prosecutor and the Ohio Supreme Court. 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 used a non pro tunc entry to backdate the entries in an attempt to prevent prosecutor Joe Deters office from overruling her decision in the D.M. and the A.C. cases. Prosecutor William Breyer disputed this claim, stating, “A non pro tunc entry is not used to backdate, it is used only to correct an earlier entry. 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 eventually ruled in favor of Hunter that all discovery evidence must be turned over including these reports, and an in-camera inspection can be used in certain cases to determine the relevance of the reports.  This ruling subsequently has jurisdiction in both cases and is now law in all courts across Ohio. 

While it is certainly believable that malicious and vindictive prosecution may indeed be at issue in this case, it is more important to note that the D.M. and A.C. cases would critically harm prosecutors ability to convict innocent youth, where hiding evidence and witness statements through denial of discovery are possible. 

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 Ms. Murdock, who acting as an agent for Deters office ordered the backdating of documents and the change of Hunter’s judicial rulings.  Removing Hunter from the bench served to prevent her from digging deeper into why the prosecution refused to submit the discovery evidence, and from learning why the prosecutor was so determined to overturn these two rulings.

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 who brought these trumped up charges against Judge Hunter, is the same prosecution team responsible for allowing the officer to go free of charges in the homicide of John Crawford, who was holding a toy gun he intended to purchase at the Walmart store in Beavercreak, Ohio.

(993 words, incl. title)

Vanessa Enoch, Ph.D. student

Union Institute & University

Reporting from Cincinnati

(513) 549-4622

You Got the Power, Inc.
Please follow and like us: