The news about Judge Tracie Hunter running for re-election for Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge originally broke when she announced it at the Fighting for Justice Silent Auction Event held November 21st at Christ Emmanuel Fellowship Church Destiny Center. The packed filled room of supporters became electrified after hearing this major announcement. They were proud to see Judge Hunter press forward showing true strength and courage in the face of adversity.
As the news began to catch fire about her attempts to run for re-election, some people began to wonder why Judge Hunter would ever consider running with her current legal turmoil; does she even have a chance? What is clear is that Judge Hunter is running because her role as a Juvenile Court Judge served a valuable purpose. Judge Hunter’s mission has always been to advocate for the fair and equal treatment of minors. Protecting their civil rights and defending their dignity. She has always stated that the goal of the Juvenile Court is supposed to be more about rehabilitation to prevent habitual behavior that would lead to incarceration in the adult prison system later.
Judge Hunter has never wavered from her innocence. Despite the malicious effort to remove her from office, she has still been able to impact positively the laws in Ohio, while temporarily away from the bench. The state of Ohio has adopted no shackling of minors, which was first introduced and enforced in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court by Judge Hunter. Hunter’s colleague Judge John Williams continued the shackling practice despite the inhumane nature of it. Ohio’s law on discovery evidence has changed thanks to Judge Hunter, providing a more even playing field in County Courts. Last but not least, Hamilton County has stopped the unconstitutional practice of not counting provisional ballots because of Judge Hunter’s relentless fight.
On December 21st, 2015 there was a hearing at the Board of Elections to decide on whether to accept or deny Tracie Hunter’s petition for Juvenile Court Judge. There were questions regarding her eligibility to run for office under the status of suspended judge and lawyer by both political parties. Their logic is that to run for Judge you must be a lawyer and since Tracie Hunter is suspended that should prohibit her from being in the race. To me, that sounds like the chicken and the egg riddle; which one comes first in this case? I think it’s clearer than what most people think. She is currently a suspended Judge. If Judge Hunter’s pending case was overturned tomorrow she would be preparing for the return to her Juvenile Court Judgeship seat. She has already earned the title of Judge through elected office. To suggest that she can’t run for re-election as a Juvenile Court Judge because she temporarily cannot practice law due to a pending case appears absurd. Judge Hunter has already passed the attorney threshold she has not definitively lost either position of Judge or Attorney. Also, there isn’t any precise legal language prohibiting this run for office under her current status.
Ultimately, Judge Hunter petition was denied 4-0. The Hamilton County Board of Election’s Board decided to follow the legal opinion of their attorney, Michael Mentel; ironically, assigned by Prosecutor Joe Deters. There was no fight from her fellow Democratic colleagues on the Board. Tim Burke, even made excuses, telling a concerned citizen in disbelief that, “ma’am she is a convicted felon.” A convicted felon… A convicted felon of what? As some say, helping her brother? Most people don’t even know what the charge means.
Let me help you out. The Ohio Revised Code 2921.42, having an unlawful interest in a public contract, does not mean handing a relative an anonymous folder, even if it had medical records in it. The law is talking about using your authority or influence to secure a public contract for the employment or termination of one’s personal or financial benefit, and that didn’t happen. This is why the appeal is strong. Read the law yourself and the definition of a “public contract” and try to find the part about medical records. You can’t squeeze a square peg into a round hole.
Tim Burke used the same shameful rhetoric of his supposedly Republican foes to discredit Judge Hunter as if she committed murder, extortion, or sexual misconduct but having an unlawful interest in a public contract is a weak charge, but more importantly, it was a “wrongful conviction.”
There are many who have done far worse than what Judge Hunter is accused of and white skinned privilege has allowed those individuals to pursue their ambitions without interruption. Take former
State Treasurer, Joe Deters who shamefully fled his Treasurer’s office and left his fellow staff members
in Cleveland to face the music for Bribery, Pay to Play, and other unethical financial offenses. Cincinnati welcomed Deters back with open arms by electing the candidate with the questionable background for Prosecutor time after time after time.
Deter’s colleague, Attorney Stan Chesley, has been accused of mishandling client funds at his law firm in Kentucky. He has been barred from practicing law in Kentucky and currently has a warrant for his arrest. Cincinnati opened its arms to Stan allowing him to sleep snuggly in his home in Indian Hills. His home was recently robbed in a home invasion, and some of the local news referred to him as “famed attorney” instead of a “wanted” one. Ironically, after that unexpected spotlight in the media, no one felt compelled to do a citizen’s arrest and turn him in. Instead, they just continued the practice of “no snitchin.” Sadly, Stan Chelsey doesn’t appear to possess enough integrity to turn himself in; and if he wishes, he could practice law here in Ohio without missing a beat.
We can’t forget (HD #81) Horn Dog #81, aka Mike Allen, accused of sexual harassment. The former prosecutor has run for City Council and Tim Burke didn’t object and say to anyone “ma’am he’s a sexual predator.” Mike Allen is still out there giving legal opinions as a guest legal analysis on some media platforms; shameless of any wrongdoing from his past.
Judge Hunter’s charges don’t even compare and yet she is labeled the “convicted felon.” We’re supposed to believe that her actions were so atrocious that she could never run for public office. I don’t think so. Judge Hunter may not have the political machine that can make her legal issues miraculously disappear like other elected officials or the skin color that would give her the benefit of the doubt, but she does have faith and a strong conviction. She has been fighting for 5+ years and in that time, she has almost lost her freedom, some income, and sadly her beloved father. It’s nothing new when the opposition says NO just to make it harder and break her down. I believe she will stay vigilant and continue to triumph against all odds because Judge Hunter’s fighting spirit will not be denied.
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