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Jury finds Judge Tracie Hunter guilty on one count

Ann Thompson
Judge Tracie Hunter walks into the courtroom before the verdict was read.

After deliberating  four days, a Hamilton County jury has found suspended Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter guilty of having an unlawful interest in a public contract.  However the jury was not able to reach verdicts on the remaining eight counts.

Hunter's attorney, Clyde Bennett II, says he will appeal.

In January, a Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Hunter on the following counts:

  1. Tampering with Evidence
  2. Forgery
  3. Tampering with Evidence
  4. Forgery
  5. Having Unlawful Interest in a Public Contract
  6. Having Unlawful Interest in a Public Contract
  7. Theft in Office
  8. Theft in Office
  9. Misuse of a credit card

The jury deliberated a total of 15 hours. Bailiff Kevin Tidd says Hunter could get 6-18 months in jail or probation. Judge Norbert Nadel says this is a fourth degree felony which would usually yield probation only. However, he said this charge involved a serious breach of public trust and judges should be held to a higher standard. With that in mind, he said Hunter may get jail time.
Hunter will be sentenced in December 2 at 10 a.m.

The special prosecutors said during closing arguments that they would not ask for any time in prison.

Closing arguments took three days and at times were heated. Last Tuesday, Special Prosecutor Scott Croswell zeroed in on Hunter's alleged willingness to commit crimes and then blame others, referring to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters. Croswell said, "Deters isn't a poor loser. She is a poor winner." While defense attorney Clyde Bennett called the case against Hunter absurd and politically motivated. He told the jury, "you can only come to a not guilty verdict on each and every count."

Last Monday, Special Prosecutor Merlyn Shiverdecker quoted Harry Truman and Shakespeare while making his case to the jury as to why they should find Tracie Hunter guilty of all nine charges facing her. Schiverdecker painted Judge Hunter as a judge who doesn't know the rules, does what she wants and has never been held accountable. During the process he claims she has broken the law and negatively affected the people in Juvenile Court. "She didn't want to be co-pilot, she wanted to run the whole show."

Bennett said the prosecution failed to prove Hunter's guilt, not because they are bad lawyers, but because Hunter didn't do it. He said, "They didn't expect a 105 lb woman to fight this case and stand up to the weight of the government. They didn't expect that. They thought she would tap out."