The Fight for Total Exoneration for Judge Tracie Hunter continues
Cincinnati, OH – October 2, 2019 –For more than two months, Judge Tracie Hunter has languished in a cold jail cell, without adequate medical care, and lacking the most basic of human rights, such as palatable food or even the ability to see. Upon entering the county justice center, one need only look no further than the secured glass window, separating the corrections officers from the general public, to see the ways in which the jail has transformed to become less accommodating to likely the most high profile inmate the jail has seen in it’s 47 year history. The newly written note to all guards, prominently featured on the computer keyboard, reads, “We will no longer accept contact lenses. Contact lenses must be sent from the manufacturer through the mail.”
Meanwhile, Judge Hunter has run out of her supply of contact lenses and has received confirmation that hers arrived at the jail nearly five previous, but the guards have refused to give them to her. Also delayed and oftentimes never received by Hunter are the numerous letters and correspondence from supporters across the tri-state and the US. Supporters like Darryl Patterson says his mail has been consistently returned to him marked, “Return to Sender, Not here. Contents Not Permitted, No Ident Number, Unknown As Addressed”. Patterson points out that each time the jail returns his letters; there are conflicting details about what is and is not allowed.
One envelope that was returned to Mr. Patterson reads, “No more than 6 pgs per envelope allowed”. Another envelope states, “Material in Print Must come from a Publisher or a bookstore. No more than 8 pages allowed.”
Another Hunter supporter, Elaine Patterson says she received a card back in the mail that she’d sent Judge Hunter, which read, “No glitter allowed”.
The numerous rules concerning how to send mail to the jail is frustrating at best, but Hunter’s supporters say that they will continue to send letters and cards of encouragement until she is released.
Hunter’s time in jail has been very difficult for her, and rough on her family and close friends, who are paying more than double the cost of an international phone call to maintain communications with Hunter. While she suffers through each day in jail, Hunter has faced numerous microaggressions and many blatant and outright insults at the hands of the guards.
She is filing grievances on a daily basis for incidents that have put her very life at risk. On one occasion Hunter was left in a holding cell unsupervised with 15 men by herself. She also reported that on another occasion, she was locked in a stairwell for over a ½ hour and the guards refused to allow her professional visit (with either clergy or her attorneys). Several of her attorneys travel several hours from Northern Ohio to meet with Hunter. Hunter has reported that she has complained about feeling dizzy and her blood pressure has been at record highs, and despite the fact that she is in the medical unit, she has been afforded no medical care as a result of her ongoing medical complaints.
Over the past several weeks, Hunter has lost so much weight that she now wears a small clothing size, and not medium, as she had when she entered the facility. She says her weight loss is a result of not eating the unidentified substances that they are serving as meals. She is also sometimes forced to go days without showering, because the shower in the tub does not work, and her jailers refuse to provide her with bleach cleaner to clean the bathtub. Hunter is on the medical floor with people with open wounds, Hepatitis C, rashes and various contagious diseases.
The lack of hair care products for black women, and a sufficient comb for black women’s hair texture has prevented Hunter from being able to was or comb her hair. Hunter supporters, Bishop Bobby Hilton and Senator Cecil Thomas initially reported that Sheriff Jim Neil’s staff conveyed that he has been placed under a gag order, and was unable to speak with them regarding the inhumane treatment during her period of incarcerated.
The fact of the matter is that people don’t lose their human rights when they go to jail.
Judge Hunter maintains her innocence and continues to fight her unjust conviction. Her attorneys have filed a Motion to Dismiss the charges, based upon the fact that trial court judge, Nadel refused to poll the jury. The only three black jurors on Judge Hunter’s criminal trial signed sworn affidavits stating that guilty was not their verdict, and had they been polled they would have said so. Hunter also asserts that she was denied a fair trial based on the extreme prosecutorial misconduct, which is still on a habeas petition appeal to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Hunter says she should also be entitled to have her conviction overturned based on her equal protection argument currently pending before the trial court, which Hunter explains that the state has treated her differently than Justice Pat DeWine, who secured a public contract for his son, when he sent an email to Prosecutor Joe Deters, asking him to hire his son in the Prosecutors office. No evidence was ever presented to substantiate the criminal charge under the same statute in Hunter’s case, but even with the smoking gun (email evidence), DeWine was never charged with crimes. Hunter has asked that the charges against her be dismissed.
Hunter will never be able to recover the time she has already spent in jail, and her supporters have called for economic sanctions against United Dairy Farmer (UDF) and other businesses, which support Prosecutor Joe Deters’ through campaign donations, who they say is behind Hunter’s false conviction. The Sheriff’s website posts a possible release date, but according to the initial agreement with Neil, Hunter was eligible to receive three days served for every one day spent in jail. By this estimate, she should have been released on September 20th.
As both federal and state cases proceed through the courts, Hunter has secured new lawyers who will be taking over the habeas case at the 6th circuit court of appeals, challenging the fact that Hunter was not afforded the constitutional right to a fair trial. Even after Hunter is released, the case will still be pending in court for who knows how long. Supporters say that is why they will continue fighting until Hunter receives complete and total exoneration. Hunter will still need to continue to raising money for her legal defense fund, and court costs that, according to Court Clerk Aftab Pureval, are likely the highest the court has ever seen.
A Citywide Event Benefit concert fundraiser for Hunter is scheduled for 2:00 PM on October 12, 2019, at New Prospect Baptist church, located at 1580 Summit Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45237. Tickets are $10. A celebrity basketball fundraiser will be held in November. The community can also give donations on the web at traciehunterlegaldefensefund.com.
For more information contact:
Dr. Vanessa Enoch, Ph.D., MBA
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