Tracie Hunter May Start Serving Jail Term Friday After Ohio Supreme Court Rejects Appeal

May 18, 2016

Credit Hamilton County Juvenile Court

Suspended juvenile court judge Tracie Hunter could begin serving her six-month jail sentence as soon as Friday, now that an Ohio Supreme Court majority has refused to hear her appeal.

Hunter is scheduled to appear before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker Friday morning for imposition of her sentence.

The vote in the Ohio Supreme Court had four justices voting against hearing her appeal and three who dissented.

But Hunter's lawyer, David Singleton, said he will ask the U.S District Court to issue an emergency stay on imposition of the sentence.

"We are not done fighting,'' Singleton said. "The fact that it was such a close decision – with three justices dissenting – tells me there are still issues here that need to be resolved."

Hunter was convicted in 2014 of unlawful interest in a public contract and sentenced to six months in the Hamilton County Justice Center.  In that trial, conducted by now-retired judge Norbert Nadel, the jury could not reach a verdict on eight other charges.

At first, the special prosecutors in the Hunter case wanted to re-try her on the charges. But, as the trial was about to begin in January, the prosecution dropped all the remaining charges.

She was suspended as a judge by the Ohio Supreme Court, but the high court allowed her to remain free while the case was under appeal. Earlier this year, she filed petitions to run for the juvenile court, but the petitions were rejected by the Hamilton County Board of Elections, acting under a legal opinion saying she was not qualified to run for judge because she is not free to practice law.