Hunter smiles as she exits the courtroom after a Dec. 2 sentencing date was set. (FOX19/Jody Barr)
Hunter looks at her attorney Clyde Bennett as a guilty verdict for count 6, unlawful interest in a public contract, is read. (FOX19/Jody Barr)
The count six verdict that was reached on Friday is unsealed Tuesday and revealed to be guilty. (FOX19/Jody Barr)
A guilty verdict of unlawful interest in a public contract is read before a fully packed courtroom. (FOX19/Jody Barr)
Judge Norbert Nadel looks directly at Hunter while explaining her crimes as a judge breached public trust. (FOX19/Jody Barr)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
As Hamilton County prosecutors decide whether to retry Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter, the lead juror said she was "frustrated and disappointed" in the result of the trial.
A jury found Hunter guilty on one felony charge of having an unlawful interest in a public contract. The 12-person jury was deadlocked on the remaining eight felony charges.
“I am extremely frustrated and disappointed with the results of our deliberations. The evidence the prosecution presented was compelling and convincing. It is very disconcerting that a judge might so attempt to manipulate our judicial system without severe consequences,” said the juror.
The majority of the jurors had consensus for convicting Hunter as guilty on all counts but it was not unanimous, the juror said.
Hunter, 47, was indicted in January on various felony charges, including two counts of tampering with evidence, two counts of forgery, two counts of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, two counts of theft in office and one count of misuse of credit cards.
After months of motions, which included requests to change the location of the trial from Hamilton County, the trial began on Sept. 8, lasting over five weeks, with the case being turned over to the jury on October 8. Two days into deliberations, the jury announced it could only reach a verdict on one count and was hung on the remaining eight.
Count six alleged Hunter used her judicial influence to intervene after her brother, a fellow Juvenile Court employee, was fired for assaulting an underage inmate, and allegedly passed confidential information about the inmate to her brother. That verdict, however, remained sealed until Tuesday as Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Norbert Nadel ordered the jury to return to deliberations.
While Hunter was found guilty of a low level felony that typically comes with probation, Nadel indicated he would be considering jail time for Hunter.
"This charge involves a breach of public trust," Nadel said. "The evidence showed that the conduct of Judge Hunter dealt a serious blow to public confidence in our judicial system, and could very well justify a jail sentence for Judge Hunter."
"This is a sad day for you, your supporters, our system of justice and your family," Nadel said to Hunter from the bench.
Supporters for Judge Tracie Hunter took to the radio waves Tuesday disappointed with her conviction and calling the trial politically motivated.
"If you are just joining us, Judge Tracie Hunter - and yes, I will call her judge - Judge Tracie Hunter was found guilty on one of nine counts,” said Janaya Trotter-Bratton.
Trotter-Bratton led the discussion on 1230 The Buzz Tuesday afternoon. As a former attorney for Hunter's brother, Stephen, Trotter-Bratton called all the charges brought against Hunter "ridiculous." The phone lines lit up with callers who agreed.
"You got governors and mayors who done smoked dope, acted a fool and they back in office right now,” said a caller.
"Right but there are some people who deserve to have their careers taken from them and some people who don't, and I don't believe she deserved to have her career taken from her,” replied Trotter-Bratton.
Now, with a criminal charge, Trotter-Bratton says Hunter's days as a judge may be over. While some Hunter supporters are relieved at a hung jury on all other counts, Trotter-Bratton said the whole trial should never have happened.
Hunter's legal battles didn't begin in January. The Democrat juvenile court judge took her place following a lengthy legal battle with her opponent over election results in 2011.