Reality Check: Tracie Hunter's attempt at a new trial

Reality check

FOX19 - Tomorrow morning Judge Norbert Nadal is expected to rule on attorney Clyde Bennett's motion for a new trial for suspended Judge Tracie Hunter who was convicted on one of nine felony counts against her. But as FOX19 has learned that Nadal's decision isn't likely to settle the issue.

In a motion filed by attorney Clyde Bennett, Judge Nadal is accused of failing to follow Rule 31 D of the Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure which reads: When a verdict is returned and before it is accepted the jury shall be polled at the request of any party or upon the court's own motion. If upon the poll there is not unanimous concurrence…the jury may be directed to retire for further deliberation or may be discharged.

But according to FOX19 Legal Analyst Mike Allen, Nada didn't break Rule 31 D.

"I was in the courtroom. I saw it," Allen said. "Each and every one of those jurors said yes it is. So there was a polling of the jury but there was not an announcement in court of what the verdict was."

What Allen says he didn't witness was Judge Nadal connecting the jurors responses specifically to Count 6 (Hunter having been found guilty of having an unlawful interest in a public contract by providing case documents to her brother Stephen Hunter, a county employee, before his disciplinary hearing). Meanwhile, in his motion for a new trial, Bennett argues that after the verdict was read in open court, he asked the court to poll the jury only to have Nadal refuse the request stating that the jury had already been polled.

According to Allen, the law, as he understands it, does not require Judge Nadal to poll jurors a second time. For Hunter to receive a new trial Judge Nadal would have to admit that he made a mistake. Allen doesn't see that happening.

"I've been practicing before judge Nadal for 20-something years," Allen said. "If he made a mistake and he believes that he did, he will admit it. I don't believe he did. I'm pretty sure he doesn't think that he did so I'm pretty sure this is going to end up in the court of appeals"

The bottom line is this: Unless Nadal admits he made a mistake, Hunter is likely to lose tomorrow. But her fight for a new trial won't end there.

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