Protesters, city leaders react to sentencing of former judge Tracie Hunter
CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - A mixture of emotions lingered in the courtroom Monday among protesters and city leaders as former Judge Tracie Hunter was sentenced to six months minus one day in jail.
Hunter was sentenced after a 2014 conviction of unlawful interest in a public contract, a felony.
She was accused of giving confidential records to her brother, a juvenile court employee who was in the process of being fired.
In court Monday morning, Judge Dinkelacker read a letter from Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters that stated Hunter has “never once shown remorse” and he “believes she has some sort of medical condition."
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley sent a letter to Judge Dinkelacker prior to sentencing, which the judge referred to in court Monday. He asked the judge not to place Hunter in prison.
Cranley claimed Hunter has been punished enough.
“She was removed as a judge and no longer has her law license. It does’t appear to me that she poses any risks to others... she has been punished enough," he sent in a letter dated July 22.
Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld called for community healing and reconciliation on Twitter after the hearing.
Chaos erupted in the courtroom and outside of the court house as the sentence was being imposed.
Hunter went limp and had to be dragged from the courtroom.
Vice Mayor Chris Smitherman asked Dinkelacker to not impose the jail sentence, but if imposed to consider a court order for early release.
The Hamilton County Board of Commissioners issued a statement Tuesday saying that “a grave injustice occurred Monday in the Hamilton Count Courthouse.” The statement goes on to say that putting Hunter in jail makes no sense.
On Sunday, Hunter posted that she will continue to fight for her innocence.
“Regardless of what happens Monday, July 22, I will continue to fight until my name has been 100 percent cleared of all charges and I am fully exonerated and restored of all that was stolen from me,” she said.
Last Tuesday, supporters of Hunter held a protest at the Hamilton County Prosecutors Office demanding the the charges against Hunter be dropped.
The supporters said that the charges were “cooked up” and that “Deters and his cronies designed to remove her from the bench”.
Councilman Chris Seelbach called the sentencing a “grave injustice.”
Supporters for Hunter gathered in front of the courthouse moments after court ended.
“I’m devastated. I am heartbroken. We should all be. I don’t care who you define yourself, I don’t care your race, your gender, your political party. We cannot deny the fact that Cincinnati is caught in a matrix of anti blackness and all have to do something about that,” Amiee Meredith Cox said.
Cox’s sentiments were shared with other supporters.
“This is a racial injustice which has occurred in our city because they were mad because an African American woman had the audacity to challenge this system and actually prove that she won the election and this is their retribution upon her,” Brian Garry said.
The President of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Action Network Bishop Bobby Hilton gathered in support for Hunter outside the courthouse Monday afternoon as well.
“The white folk went home. The black girl goes to jail. This city will not be satisfied until this city begins to burn like hell. We are not going to deal with this. We are not going to deal with this. That was wrong. All we ask for is fairness, all we want to fairness. Not special treatment, just fair treatment and that was dirty,” Hilton said.
Ohio Senator Cecil Thomas also expressed his feelings that Hunter does not belong in jail.
“You got jail overcrowding right now in this facility. What sense does it make that you are going to put a judge in here in isolation. It makes no sense. The only reason she’s in here is because of their politics. This is why we are going to change this system at the state level to take this kind of control out of the hand of judges,” Thomas said.
Thomas says he is pushing for criminal justice reform at the state level.
Hunter did appeal at both the state and federal level in the Ohio court of appeals, Supreme Court of Ohio, 6th District, and the 6th District Court of Appeals.
Supporters say there is still a lot of work to do when it comes to fighting for fair treatment among all people.
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