On November 17th, 2014 Attorney Clyde Bennett II filed a separate motion for a retrial based on juror misconduct by jury forewoman Sandy Kirkham. It is being alleged that in a jury survey Mrs. Kirkham omitted revealing that she was a victim of a crime. She has admitted to being sexually abused by a male minister when she was a teenager and now is a very vocal advocate for survivors of sexual abuse. Some may think how does this little white lie affect Judge Tracie Hunter’s case? This withholding of the truth is very damaging because it implies that Mrs. Kirkham who was victimized by a minister could have a negative bias toward ministers, including Judge Hunter who practices in the related field of ministry.
Sandy Kirkham’s lie is just one of many indications of bias. The public was informed of these potential infractions by Nate Livingston a well-known community activist and creator of the Cincinnati Black Blog many weeks ago on WDBZ 1230 The Buzz. Mr. Livingston informed that the very publicity driven forewoman in the Judge Hunter case may have some underline biases that needed to be addressed. He legally acquired public records on Sandy Kirkham after much reluctance from Judge Nadel’s court. His research gave light to the fabrication made in the jury survey.
The research guru also discovered that Mrs. Kirkham had very early violated court instructions to not discuss the case but she immediately indicated on her Facebook page, which is conveniently closed down now, that she was selected in a high profile case. Many of her friends guessed or questioned was it the Judge Hunter case. Some even suggested that Judge Hunter be found guilty.
Mr. Livingston also discovered that her husband is a prominent attorney who recently represented a local news station who filed a lawsuit against Judge Hunter. He also found that the Kirkham’s had donated campaign contributions to Prosecutor Joe Deters who indicted Judge Hunter and was involved in countless appeals to keep Tracie Hunter from Judgeship in the Juvenile Courts.
See Mr. Livingston’s blog: Hunter Juror Kirkham gave money to prosecutor. Each of these instances reveals Sandy Kirkham’s influential bias by way of favoritism or loyalty to characters that are against or have fought against Judge Hunter at one time or another. Sandy Kirkham should have never been on the jury because she lied on the juror questionnaire. Something that might have been an obvious indicator of possible bias was withheld and Judge Hunter’s access to due process from a fair jury was denied.
According to U.S Legal.com a Jury Foreman’s duties are:
- Ensuring that each jury member is present in the jury room when deliberations begin.
- Confirming that each juror understands the deliberation procedures and knows that each member is allowed to ask question s/he may have concerning the case.
- Ensuring that deliberations are conducted in an orderly manner and that the discussion is open to each member.
- Ensuring that a jury member does not bully another.
- Confirming that each juror is aware of his/her responsibilities and that each juror is allowed to state their views and reason as to their verdict.
- Communicating on behalf of the jury with the judge
- Announcing the verdict
This is a lot of responsibility and control for an individual to have. I challenge you to imagine those responsibilities in the hands of someone with prejudice against the accused. Was deliberations conducted in an orderly manner without manipulation or peer influence? We are aware of 3 jurors recanting their verdicts. Were they allowed to state their views? How much bullying did she prevent if not imposing it herself? There was at least one juror reduced to tears after the verdict. How satisfying was it to announce “Guilty” on count 6 when your spouse, friends, and political associates greatly wanted to see the accused fall? Also, considering how “extremely frustrating” it was to not get a guilty conviction on the remaining 8 counts. As a matter of fact, Mrs. Kirkham was so frustrated she had to declare to the news and radio stations of her concerns.
Our constitutional right to have a trial by an impartial jury through due process is important in order for citizens accused of a crime to be given a fair trial. When due process is infringed upon because of someone’s lack of honesty then the case of the accused can be drastically altered, destroying that individual’s life, liberty or property. Judge Tracie Hunter is facing possibly 1 ½ years in prison on December 2nd. She has already been suspended from judgeship without pay from the Ohio Supreme Court. It just shows the incredible costs one can suffer from a lie and intentional bias.
What has to be the most ironic statement made from Sandy Kirkham was after the verdict of Judge Hunter she went on a clear publicity rant of how “extremely frustrated” she was that Judge Hunter was not convicted on all counts. She stated, “It is very disconcerting that a judge might so attempt to manipulate our judicial system without severe consequences.” I wonder if she would like to recant that statement since it appears the only one to manipulate our judicial system was Sandy Kirkham. However, I do agree with Mrs. Kirkham that she should suffer severe consequences.
Will this miscarriage of justice lead to a retrial for Judge Tracie Hunter?
What are your thoughts?