Chaos erupted in a Cincinnati court after judge Patrick Dinkelacker ordered former judge Tracie Hunter to begin her 6 month sentence. This is despite protests from the black American community and a letter from the mayor.
Tracie Hunter is a former judge of the juvenile court. Tracie was convicted in 2014 for using her position to help out a family member. The charge is that she gave confidential documents to her brother for a disciplinary hearing in his court job.
Tracie Hunter, 52, had tried all possible means to avoid jail, but judge Dinkelacker put an end to the years-long battle. Before the sentencing, the judge showed some postcards he had received from Tracie’s supporters asking him to absolve her. He also showed postcards that were criticizing him of an incident where he hit a pedestrian with his car.
He told the court that those intimidations would not work on him. “if the intent was to intimidate me, that has flat out failed,” he told the court.
Tracie says been dragged out of court hurt her
After the sentencing was read, Tracie stood up and one of her supporters jumped over the rails towards her. Authorities withheld her and she was later to be charged for contempt of court.
As a female African-American deputy approached Hunter, she appeared to go limp into the arms of the deputy. People were heard in the crowd yelling “she’s passed out” but she was conscious. Holding her by the armpits from the back, the deputy dragged Hunter out of the court room amid cries of “no justice, no peace” from the crowd.
Confirming the incident, her attorney David Singleton said she might have been overcome with shock after the sentencing which is why she went limp.
Her sentencing was political, says attorney.
Singleton said that the judge did not have to give that kind of a sentence on what he called a “nepotism charge.” He attributes the sentencing to politics and conflicts of interest.
In 2010, Hunter, a democrat, lost a narrow election to Republican John Williams but she legally challenged the win in a year and a half battle over provisional ballots. In 2012, she was given the victory and appointed to the juvenile court.
The county defender Joseph T Deters was amongst those involved in that lawsuit representing Williams. Deters and Hunter had been involved in public squabbles in the courtroom which led Deters to recuse himself from the felony case and appoint special prosecutors.
Before the sentencing, Judge Dinkelacker read a letter from Deters in which he states she has some sort of “mental condition” that should be evaluated. He also said that she has never felt remorse. However, in a surprising move, after the sentencing, Deters said Hunters should be considered for leniency by the governor.
But these are not the only letters that Dinkelacker was to receive. He had infact received a letter from the mayor and another from the vice Mayor Chris Smitherman. In his letter the mayor John Cranley asked Dinkelacker not to sentence hunter. He said, “Serving prison time would be disproportionate to her crime.”
Chris Smitherman in his letter also asks Dinkelacker not to execute the sentence but if he were to impose the sentence to consider a court order that would allow for an early release at the sheriff’s discretion.
Racial injustice cries
The African-American community in the area protested the sentencing. There were echoes of chants in the courtroom during the sentencing and protestors also gathered at Dinkelacker’s home to continue the protest.
Bishop Bobby Hilton said “blacks in Cincinnati are not respected. All we want is fair treatment, not special treatment but fairness.” He also said he’s going to encourage her to file for clemency with the governor.