When we think of the justice system we have some pretty solid image of how a judge should look and act in and out of the courtroom. Well, forget everything you thought that you knew because this next story left us amazed. How amazed? Let us just say that we won’t be surprised if Netflix will turn it into a doco-crime.
Her name is Tracie Hunter and the truth behind what led to this picture is a lot more complicated than you’d expect. Is Tracie a corrupt judge or an innocent woman being prosecuted for political and racial reasons? We invite you to keep reading and decide for yourselves.
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This story, just like any other good juicy story, starts off completely normal. Young Tracie Hunter really wanted to become an attorney. She studied for her undergraduate degree in Miami and graduated in 1988.
She Opened Her Own Law Firm
In 1992 she got her J.D from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. After school, she found her very first job, working as an attorney for a law firm called Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley.
In 1994 Tracie plucked out her courage and opened her own law firm. Her firm dealt with civil rights matters, personal injuries, and real estate. So far, so good.
The first African American senior pastor in the church
Just having her own law firm was not enough for her; she needed to do something for her soul, which is why in 2009, she became a senior pastor in the Western Hills Brethren Christ Church.
She was the first African American senior pastor in the church and the first female pastor of Cincinnati’s local BIC congregation. As a pastor, she gave inspirational talks and received several awards. So far, she sounds like a good god-fearing gal.
She Wanted More…A lot More
Despite already having her own law firm and being a senior pastor, Tracie still wasn’t satisfied and wanted to achieve more.
She decided she wanted to become a county court judge. Let us tell you something about Tracie, just like Ariana Grande if she wants it, she gets it.
The First-Ever African American To be a judge in her county
In November of 2010, Tracie was elected to be a judge in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court in Ohio, beating two white dudes with boring names to get there.
She was the first-ever African American to be a judge in her county, and of course, we were all rooting for her.
Trouble Came At Her Door
Problems with her term began way before she ever had to be dragged out of a courtroom in 2019.
She was supposed to start her term in January of 2011. But there was a suspicion that some ballots were cast in the wrong precincts.
Was the election rigged?
So, was the election rigged? Was it on purpose? Who did it? A lawsuit was filed to try and sort out this fishy dispute.
The Lawsuit was eventually settled by judge Susan J. Dlott, who ruled in Hunter’s favor.
She had Thought that the legal fiasco is over – but that wasn’t the case
Judge Susan J. Dlott concluded that there was nothing sketchy about the election. There were worker errors, which affected the ballots, but, according to Dlott, the votes still count and can be counted in Hunter’s favor.
But you have to admit, it still sounds suspicious, and it’s definitely not a good way to start your term.
She Finally Took Office
Well, at least Hunter got her legal fees back. In 2013 $921,000 were granted to Hunter to cover her fees during this legal fiasco, and after waiting for over a year, she finally took office in May of 2012 and got to start her term.
She Was Trouble When She Walked In
Unfortunately for Hunter, this term would end being a lot shorter than she expected. Why? Because in September of 2013, less than two years after she was sworn in, she was already in trouble.
Damn. Allegations were being made by the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office that either Judge Hunter or someone in her courtroom was writing a much earlier date on court orders so that it would be impossible to appeal them. Wow, that sounds… unjust?
Innocent Or Guilty?
The question is, unjust in what way? To this day, Tracie claims she’s innocent and is only being prosecuted because of political reasons.
And it could be right since, by 2013, Hunter already had bad blood with the prosecutor’s office.
Acting Like Kanye Vs Taylor Swift
Earlier that year, Tracie accused county prosecutor Joe Deters of defaming her, which is just fancy court speak for calling each other names and ruining each other’s reputation.
Come on, you guys, you’re judges for Christ’s sake, not Kanye West and Taylor Swift. Deters denied ever having said anything to defame Tracie.
They’ve Decided To Investigate
In 2013, two special prosecutors were sent to investigate the allegations against Tracie. But the truth is that lawsuits against Tracie were being filed long before these two prosecutors were sent to investigate the matter.
They Were On To Something
In 2012, Tracie was sued by The Hamilton County public defender’s office. She was accused of having too many delays in issuing her rulings. Most of these rulings were regarding children who were at risk and needed to either be removed from their homes, adopted or put in foster care.
So yeah, delaying these rulings for over 120 days, not cool Tracie, not cool at all.
Evidence Started Stacking Up
Tracie’s attorney, who goes by the name of Richard Blake, claimed no one ever told him this matter was being investigated. In the meantime, two special investigators interviewed 30 witnesses, and evidence against Hunter started stacking up like dirty laundry.
According to Tracie, it wasn’t her who did anything wrong but the court clerk’s office. She claimed they admitted to reporting inaccurate data about the court cases. She wasn’t backdating her cases; these cases were out of date long before she even received them, long before she even became a judge in the juvenile court. Interesting line of defense.
Nine crimes One Judge
Hunter said she’s being singled out for a problem that started long before she ever became a judge. But all of that didn’t help her much. In January of 2014, she ended up being indicted for 9 felonies. Let that sink in for a second, she was in office for less than two years, 9 crimes!
She was accused of forgery, tampering with evidence, misusing credit cards, and even theft. These are just a few items of a very long list of wrongdoings.
A True Conspiracy?
At this point, the whole story starts sounding more and more like the type of thing Netflix would make a true-crime documentary about. There are enough conspiracies in this case for at least 6 episodes.
Would you watch a Netflix doc about Tracie’s crazy life? You probably would. But wait, hold your horses because the real scandalous stuff is still ahead of us. She hadn’t been sentenced to jail yet, she hadn’t been dragged out of a courtroom yet. Just keep reading.
Good Old Nepotism
Now, let’s get to the sordid parts. One of the charges against Hunter was that she hired her own brother to work for her in court, that’s what we would call good old nepotism.
She Didn’t Stop There
Not only did she hire her brother, but she allegedly also used her power as a judge to get some documents from her brother’s personnel file. While her brother was in the process of getting fired, Hunter gave him some papers she found in his record. If that’s not an obstruction of justice, we don’t know what is.
Disqualified From Being A Judge
At this point, with so much evidence stacked up against her, Hunter was disqualified from being a judge. It was decided that she would remain disqualified as long as the charges against her were open.
But check this out, Tracie still got to collect her $121,350 salary. Damn, those people in public roles got it good, huh? We’d love to get that salary while sitting at home after being accused of 9 different crimes.
Won’t Go Down Without A Fight
Our girl Tracie was not about to go down without a fight. On January 17th, 2014, She pled not guilty to all 9 felony charges. But the really exciting thing about the case is not the number of charges or how Tracie pled to them, but how she chose to deal with the situation.
Many would prefer to stay at home, stay quiet until their name is either cleared or they’re found guilty. But not our Tracie. She went to Cincinnati’s Dr. Martin Luther King parade on January 20th, 2014. She was seen holding a banner of her picture next to the images of influential civil rights leaders. Vain much?
Tracie also gave a statement saying that if she goes to jail, she’ll join a list of honorable people like Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King. We don’t remember Rosa Parks ever being charged with forgery.
Oh well. Hunter and her supports are claiming that all of these charges made against her have no merit and are simply due to her being the first American American woman to serve as a democrat judge in the county. A friend and supporter of Tracie say the county was simply not ready for that.
The Trial Was About To Begin
Now, let’s get to what we promised you in the beginning: The trial, and how Tracie was dragged out of court. Hunter ended up being convicted of only one felony, which honestly, we think she should have been thankful for.
She was convicted of giving her brother confidential documents he shouldn’t have seen. The judge who tried her case said the evidence left no doubt that Hunter was guilty and that she gave “a very serious blow to the public confidence of our judicial system and there’s no question about that” Ouch.
Six Months In Jail
Hunter was sentenced to six months in jail, which, according to her, would put her on the same glorified list with many civil rights warriors. As for the other charges, the jury found it very hard to decide whether Hunter was guilty or not, which is why the judge declared a mistrial.
That meant that Tracie had to be judged on the eight remaining counts at a later date. Man, she almost dodges that bullet, but then she didn’t. Damn, that was so close!
So obviously Tracie appealed. She asked that a Judge named Patrick Dinkelacker will be removed from her retrial on her remaining felonies. Tracie claimed that there’s no way Judge Dinkelacker would be able to be impartial when it comes to her case.
But there was just one problem for Tracie, out of all the judges of the Hamilton County Court, no one wanted to try her case. Every single one of them said that if they were assigned her trial, they would immediately disqualify themselves. Ouch.
He Was Determined
Dinkelacker, on the other hand, was determined to remain on the case for some reason.
He said, “I find no legal reason or judicial code of conduct guidelines which permits me to disqualify myself.”
They Dropped Some Of The Charges. What??
And so, because things work super slowly in the judicial system, On January 19th, 2016, two years after the original trial, Tracie’s second trial was finally supposed to begin.
Only, that suddenly, the prosecutors decide to drop all of the other charges against Hunter. Hallelujah!
Not Enough Evidence?
Special Prosecutor Scott Croswell said that it doesn’t really matter if Hunter is convicted for one felony or nine.
The truth is that the charges were probably dropped because the prosecution did not have enough evidence.
She dodged that bullet
They knew there’s no way they’ll win, so they just dropped everything on the day of the trial. So apparently, she actually did dodge that bullet. She’s like a cat with nine lives and nine felony charges.
But even if she dodged that bullet, Judge Tracie Hunter still had months in jail looming over her head, but there was no way she was about to go to jail without an appeal.
Bad Luck Tracy
The Ohio Supreme Court allowed Hunter’s sentence to be delayed while she was filing an appeal. But, that didn’t help her that much, since the appeals court decided to uphold her conviction and the state supreme court didn’t want to even hear the case.
This means they either thought she was super guilty or they just didn’t care. Either way, ouch! So, on July 22nd, 2019, which was a Monday, if you have to know, Tracie was arrested and brought to court.
Nope, She Ain’t Going
In court, a judge sentenced her to 6 months in jail, but Tracie really wasn’t about to have it. If someone wanted Tracie in jail, they would have to physically drag her there. Otherwise, there’s no way she’s going.
When she heard the sentence, she went limp, all of a sudden. The Surveillance footage from the courtroom captured this surreal moment as she was being dragged out of the court. It was extremely painful for her because she truly believed in her innocence, which is maybe why she refused to leave.
Gender Or Race Issues?
As the sentence was being given, supporters of Hunter were outside, they wore T-shirts with her name on them and shouted.
Her lawyer said that she is clearly being mistreated because of her race, gender, and political opinions.
Was She Misjudged?
Hunter was the first-ever African American woman to be a judge on the juvenile court bench. She’s a fierce and fearless personality, a fact that caused her a lot of trouble during her very short term.
Judges and officials in Hamilton County apparently despised her, but her lawyer and some supporters say she was misjudged and only went to jail because of her race.
Dumpster fire from the start
One judge from Hamilton County who goes by the name of Deters chimed in and said that Tracie Hunter has been a ‘Dumpster fire from the start,’ a statement that doesn’t make either of them look good. Can we assume these two didn’t get along very well?
Honestly, it’s very hard to decide what has happened here, was the decision to put Tracie in jail racially charged, or was she just a corrupt judge? Guess we’ll never know, at least until Netflix will pick up the glove and give us a full-length true-crime documentary about this case.
Out Of Jail
Either way, after just two months in jail, Tracie was granted a release from Hamilton’s County Sheriff, Jim Neil. So, we guess she got out early on good behavior?
She saw the light of day again on October 5th, 2019, and she even gave an interview that day, just a few moments after she was released from jail. And yet, she will always be remembered as the judge who had to be dragged out of the courtroom, and that’s something.
Sources: Forreason.com; Image: WVXU