Suspended juvenile court judge Tracie Hunter, convicted of a felony in October 2014, has sued the Hamilton County Board of Elections for revoking her right to vote.
Hunter's lawyer, David Singleton, filed a 19-page motion for a temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court to have her voting rights restored.
"Our argument is very simple,'' Singleton told WVXU. "The law in Ohio only prevents people who are convicted of a felony or felonies and who are incarcerated from voting. Tracie Hunter is not incarcerated."
Hunter was convicted two years ago of one felony count of unlawful interest in a public contract and was sentenced to six months in jail.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court refused her appeal, but, in May, just before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker was to impose the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black granted an emergency stay which has kept Hunter out of jail.
Black is in the process of hearing Hunter's petition for a writ of habeas corpus, which, if granted, would release her from the control of the common pleas court.
Thus, Singleton argues, his client is not incarcerated and should be allowed to vote in the November 8 election.
The board of elections earlier rejected Hunter's bids to run for the juvenile court this year, saying that, as a suspended judge, she can't perform any function that a lawyer can perform – including running for office.
But the board, based on an opinion from its attorney, argues that Hunter's felony conviction alone precludes her from voting.
"Our answer is that once you are convicted of a felony you lose your voting rights,'' said board of elections chairman Tim Burke. "You remain disqualified until after you have served your sentence. Then you can register to vote again."
Burke said the board's attorney would soon be filing a brief laying out the board of elections' position.
Judge Michael Barrett has been assigned the case.