CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - Supporters of former judge Tracie Hunter demonstrated outside Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker’s home Monday night, hours after he imposed her sentence.
Hunter was convicted in 2014 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.
Judge Dinkelacker sentenced the former Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge to six months minus one day in the Hamilton County Justice Center early Monday.
Hunter was also given one year of community control.
Chaos broke out while the sentence was being read. Hunter went limp in the arms of a deputy and had to be dragged from the courtroom.
After the sentencing, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley asked Gov. Mike DeWine to consider commuting Hunter’s sentence.
The protest outside the judge’s home was peaceful with a group of about 20 to 25 people chanting “Dinkelacker’s got to go" and “No justice, no peace.”
“This is drawing attention to the matter,” said State Sen. Cecil Thomas. “What we want people to be aware of is the injustice here.”
One woman confronted the group and was angry with the protesters. She did not think the protest was fair to others who live in the neighborhood.
The crowd dispersed and was replaced by a group of the judge’s neighbors showing their support.
Protesters told FOX19 NOW they plan to do more demonstrations at the judge’s home, as well as in other spots around the Cincinnati area.
Hunter’s supporters also released a statement overnight:
"The decision of Judge Patrick Dinkelacker to have Judge Tracie M. Hunter locked up in jail for six-months, was shameful and disgraceful, and it served no purpose other than to demonstrate the lack of judicial impartiality and unfairness within the Hamilton County Court System.
"Moreover, these actions have deepened the divide within the Cincinnati community. Judge Hunter is not in the best physical health as a result of injuries from a near fatal car accident she endured years ago.
"The brutal force by which she was removed, and drug out of the courtroom, despite the fact that she did not resist, was further evidence of the egregiousness and vindictiveness of this entire case.
"Judge Hunter has no prior record and has been an upstanding leader, judge and pastor in our community for many decades.
"Her incarceration is also a hardship upon her family, particularly her elderly mother for whom Judge Hunter is the primary caretaker. It is also a hardship on the church congregation, where she is the senior pastor.
"Although, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters recused himself from the case due to a conflict of interest, to make it appear that he had no involvement, he interfered and controlled the entire process from start to finish. Deters brought the charges, selected the special prosecutors, and used his own budget and asset forfeiture fund to pay for the entire case.
"Deters knew that special prosecutors could be attained free of charge, but instead he chose to secure a no bid multi-million dollar public contract for his personal criminal defense and divorce attorneys. His involvement culminated today in a letter addressed to Judge Dinkelacker, recommending that Judge Hunter undergo a mental evaluation.
"This recommendation by Deters influenced Judge Dinkelacker to remand Hunter to the psych unit in the county jail.
"We are further outraged that Judge Hunter stands falsely accused and convicted of a crime she did not commit, and for which there was not one shred of evidence presented at trial. There was no contract secured, and the prosecutors own witnesses testified that Judge Hunter had no involvement in her brother’s termination hearings. Additionally, three jurors came forward to say that guilty was not their verdict.
"Even more troubling was the composition of her jury and the jury pool, which was composed almost entirely by those with connections to her political adversaries.
"This case needs to be investigated by an independent body, with no connection to the prosecutor or judges in Hamilton County. Judge Hunter is a political prisoner, whose only crime was believing that a black woman could run for office, win, and become the first black and the first democrat to hold a juvenile judgeship in Cincinnati-Hamilton County, OH’s 110-year history.
“There will be ongoing action steps shared with the community once they are finalized. It’s time for those who believe in justice and fairness to stand up and speak out on this unnecessary and unjust decision. More information about Judge Hunter’s nearly 10 year battle with the prosecutor and his political cronies can be found on traciehunterlegaldefensefunds.comwebsite.”
The statement is from: The Coalition for a Just Hamilton County, The Cincinnati Chapter of the NAACP, The Greater Cincinnati National Action Network, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Interdenominational Ministry Alliance, The Nation of Islam, The Church Collaborative and Concerned Citizens for Justice Black United Front