Attorneys for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter have filed a motion requesting a mistrial, claiming two jurors were pressured to agree on a guilty verdict for Hunter.
Jurors Rakesha Holmes and William Smith signed sworn statements claiming their verdict of guilty on one of nine charges was in fact not their true verdict, Attorney Clyde Bennett announced Wednesday while appearing on 1230 AM radio Wednesday.
"There was some pressure, some coercion by other members of the jury to get them to at least agree or not necessarily agree but at least sign a verdict with respect to one of charges,” said Bennett.
The motion claims Hunter's 14th Amendment rights were violated when Judge Norbert Nadel did not poll the jury on Oct. 14, the day the guilty verdict was read. Nadel polled the jury on Friday and all of them agreed they had come to a verdict, but it was kept sealed for three days.
Bennett says had these two jurors been polled on Tuesday, Oct. 14, Hunter would not be found guilty.
“I was contacted later that evening by one of the jurors and the juror advised me that she had a problem with her verdict and her verdict of guilty to count 6 of the indictment was in fact not her verdict,” said Attorney Clyde Bennett Wednesday afternoon.
Count 6, unlawful interest in a public contract, claimed Hunter used her position to obtain federally protected medical records in order to help her brother, Steven Hunter, who was fired from his job at the Hamilton County juvenile detention center in 2013 for allegedly punching an inmate. Jurors remained deadlocked on the remaining eight felony counts against Hunter.
Judge Tracie Hunter is set to be sentenced December 2 and the Ohio Supreme Court suspended her law license on Tuesday in light of that felony conviction.
Last week, the jury foreperson released a statement saying there was a consensus for guilty in the jury room but not everyone could agree. We asked for her thoughts on these new allegations and she declined to comment.
A hearing for the judge to decide whether Hunter will get a new trial is set for Nov. 14.
"You might lose but you still got to fight and in this case we still have to go forward regardless of what some people think Judge Norbert Nadele may or may not do,” said Bennett.