Judge Tracie Hunter orders county to hire employee, gets sued - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Judge orders county to hire employee, gets sued

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CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter is being sued by the county that employs her.

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann filed a lawsuit against her Thursday because Hunter ordered the county to hire an administrator who would work exclusively for her.

"She ordered us to hire a second administrator for juvenile court," Hartmann told FOX19 News. "She's got no right to file that order. She's not the presiding judge. It's a shame we can't work this out like adults."

The order filed by Hunter instructs the county to hire Wende G. Cross as a Court Administrator to begin on Nov. 19. As a result, Hartmann felt the county had to file a lawsuit immediately.

"She ordered that one of our employees in human resources to make this hire immediately so we had to take this action today because, conceivably, if we're telling one of our employees to ignore a judge's order, that employee could be thrown in jail," said Hartmann.

Hartmann says this comes at a time with the county is having to examine every facet of its budget.

"We're in the hardest budget we've been in in a generation in Hamilton County. Juvenile court is already $300,000 over budget this year. They're looking at a cut of over $3,000,000 for next year so that court does not need two administrators. We have to cut $18,000,000 out of our budget for next year. That's a huge number on top of the $65,000,000 we've cut in the last five years," said Hartmann. 

Hunter disagrees.

"It just became necessary for me to hire someone to make sure that I could carry out the responsibilities, the roles and the duties of the juvenile court judge that I was elected by the people to be," she said.

Hartmann says that in light of the budget issues, no single judge needs their own administrator.

"They've got one for Municipal Court and there's about 15 Municipal Court judges. There's also about 15 Common Pleas judges and they only have one administrator. You can't have one judge having his own administrator," said Hartmann.

"From my understanding in talking to other judges and other employees of juvenile court who have been here a long time is that there has frequently been two Court Administrators at one time," said Hunter.

Hunter disputes the county's budget issues saying she was the Juvenile Court judge who didn't take office until this past May even though the election was in 2010, because a recount was required.

"The reason I was sworn in 19 months late is because the county was willing to spend almost $2,000,000 to keep me, to prevent me from that I rightfully earned and was duly elected to," claims Hunter. "So, I have a difficult time stomaching the proposition that a $106,000 position in somehow outweighs the $2,000,000 that they were willing to spend to keep me out of office."

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