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Tracie Hunter’s conviction is unlawful

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By Stacy M. Brown

NNPA Newswire Correspondent

Tracie Hunter speaks to members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association when the organization held its annual convention in Cincinnati from June 25 to 28. This article and others about the sentencing of Hunter have been distributed to the more than 200 African American newspapers that are NNPA members. Photo by NNPA

Former Judge Tracie Hunter, who became Hamilton County Ohio’s first Black juvenile court judge, is receiving support from Ohio State Senator Cecil Thomas, who argues that her conviction should be overturned.

Thomas said Hunter didn’t receive a fair trial and that she appears to have been the victim of corruption.

After being convicted of providing confidential documents to her brother in an attempt to help save his job as a corrections officer and exhausting her appeals, Hunter was literally dragged off to jail last month.

“No one is above the law, including judges and prosecutors,” said Thomas. However, in an August 13 letter to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, Thomas said Hunter’s prosecution and subsequent conviction violated the law.

On Sept. 17, 2013, Prosecutor Joe Deters filed a motion requesting special prosecutors for the case against Hunter.

On that same day, Judge Beth Myers filed an entry with the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts appointing special prosecutors, to fully investigate Hunter.

“By filing the motion without due diligence, Judge Myers subsequently appointed Prosecutor Joe Deters’ lawyers and friends who have represented [Deters] in personal litigation,” said Thomas.

One of the attorneys is a partner in the law firm that represented Deters in his divorce, the senator noted, adding, “There are numerous examples that will show just how close these attorneys are to Deters.”

When publicly questioned regarding the appointments, Myers said she “dealt with things as they were presented to me. I will continue to do that,” according to Thomas.

Deters has maintained that he didn’t recommend the appointments and that they were done strictly by the Common Pleas Court. However, Thomas said the appointed lawyers have twice referenced Deters’ role in the appointments.

“Joe Deters requested a special prosecutor because he had a conflict. As such, by law, his only participation is to make the request and provide reasoning,” Thomas said.

“Judge Myers’ role is to decide whether to honor the request and, if so, to appoint with the assurance that there are no conflicts,” he said.

“It appears neither Deters nor Myers followed the law to assure Judge Hunter received a fair trial, free of any biases, and [Myers] appears to have played a role in unlawfully securing a public contract,” Thomas said.

By appointing Deters’ lawyers, any reasonable person can conclude there are inherent conflicts, Thomas continued.

“First, the mere personal relationship speaks for itself. Second, by honoring his recommendation to hire his personal lawyers, in essence, [Myers] played a role in using her public office to secure a public contract of approximately $700,000 for the personal lawyers of another public official,” Thomas said.

A spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office said they hadn’t seen the complaint.

Yost’s office declined to comment.

As Thomas submitted his letter, attorneys for Hunter formally asked that she be released.

The judge who carried out her sentence is reportedly waiting for the special prosecutor in the case to respond before deciding.

Hunter, who’s also a church pastor in Cincinnati, has had the support of so many, including the Coalition for a Just Hamilton County which is composed of members from the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance, the Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, the local chapter of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, the Black United Front, the Southern Christian Leadership Council, the Nation of Islam and others.

“They’ve tried to stop me from telling my truth, and all I have is my truth,” she told NNPA Newswire in June. She said she had mostly refrained from giving interviews because the local media has only used sound bites to try and embarrass her.

“I’ve lost hope in the justice system, which is why I became a judge in the first place,” Hunter said. “I’ve not lost faith in God even though they’ve tried to drive me out of this city.”

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