Prosecutor Dismisses Remaining Charges Against Tracie Hunter
At the beginning of suspended Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s second criminal trial Tuesday morning, the special prosecutor announced the remaining eight felony charges against her would be dismissed.
The stunning move came in the Hamilton County Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, as both sides were presumed to be preparing for jury selection.
The suspended judge faced counts of theft in office, forgery, tampering with evidence and misuse of a county credit card.
They were eight counts the jury in Hunter’s 2014 criminal trial could not reach a verdict on. She was convicted of one felony count – unlawful interest in a public contract.
The judge in the trial, Norbert Nadel, now retired, sentenced her to six months in jail. But the Ohio Supreme Court said she could remain free while the case was under appeal.
Hunter appealed to the Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals, but a three-judge appeals court panel rejected her appeal last week. David Singleton, her appeals lawyer, said he is filing papers to ask the Ohio Supreme Court to take up her case.
Dinkelacker said he would not impose the sentence on Hunter at this time. He said he would wait and hold a hearing on the matter Friday. Singleton must file his request with the Ohio Supreme Court to hear Hunter's appeal by Friday.
R. Scott Croswell, the special prosecutor who made the motion to dismiss the case, could not be reached for comment,
Defense attorney Jennifer Branch told WVXU she was "shocked" by the special prosecutor's decision to dismiss the charges.
"We had no idea this was coming,'' said Branch, who teamed with attorney Lou Sirkin on Hunter's defense. "We've spent the past two months preparing her defense and then this happens."
But, Branch said, "I really shouldn't have been shocked, because I think they knew they couldn't win."
Branch said the defense team filed a motion last week asking that four of the felony charges be dismissed because evidence had been wiped off a computer kept by the prosecutors since the 2014 trial.