Chaos erupted in the courtroom yesterday when a former Democrat juvenile court judge was sentenced to 6 months in jail for mishandling a confidential document.
The entire case, which had been going on since 2014 since the accused, Tracie Hunter, kept appealing, had become controversial, with people taking sides on whether Hunter should be let off or not.
When Judge Patrick Dinklelacker finally decided that Hunter should be sentenced to a 6-month prison sentence, Tracie Hunter went limp and had to be physically dragged out of the courtroom as protestors shouted out their disapproval of the sentencing!
Watch the clip of the courtroom ruckus here:
That video has since been going viral online and stirring up quite a storm on social media.
Check out the news that hit Twitter:
Make Curnette pointed out that the ruckus extended beyond the courtroom, as protestors took to protesting the sentence outside the ruling judge's house:
Here's what people are saying about the scene on Twitter:
Fox News has more to say about the sentencing:
A former juvenile court judge, a Democrat who took the bench after being declared the winner of a disputed 2010 election, was jailed Monday, and had to be taken out of the courtroom in Cincinnati, according to reports.
A deputy with her arms under the defendant’s shoulders pulled Tracie Hunter across the courtroom after she went limp. Supporters stood and yelled in anger, and deputies intercepted a woman who tried to rush to her.
There were more demonstrations outside the Hamilton County Courthouse, and civil rights activists said there will be boycotts or other actions in protest.
Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker ordered her six-month jail sentence carried out after a contentious hearing in which he read from postcards with critical comments sent to his home in support of Hunter. He called them an apparent intimidation attempt that “flat-out failed.”
Fox 19 reported that Dinkelacker read a letter from Prosecutor Joe Deters that stated Hunter has “never once shown remorse.”
“She has been incredibly disrespectful to you and the justice system,” wrote Deters.
The prosecutor also added in his letter that he “believes she has some sort of medical condition."
Deters, a Republican, suggested she receive a medical evaluation, the news outlet reported.
RTV6 Indianapolis also had the following to say about what went down in the courtroom yesterday:
Authorities held a woman back and the crowd screamed as a deputy removed ex-judge Tracie Hunter from the courtroom Monday morning after she was ordered to begin a six-month sentence.
Judge Patrick Dinkelacker executed the sentence despite push back from Hunter's supporters and a letter from the mayor.
Hunter was convicted of mishandling a confidential document in 2014. She has been free since then because she has been appealing.
After Dinkelacker ordered authorities to take her to jail, Hunter appeared to go limp as she stood from her seat, and a deputy dragged her out of the courtroom.
“She passed out,” someone yelled, but Hunter appeared to be conscious. She looked around and flicked her fingers as the deputy dragged her from the courtroom.
"This city is going to burn," someone shouted.
At least one person was taken into custody after Dinkelacker handed down the decision, authorities said.
For some background on why Tracie Hunter was sentenced to jail, WCPO has a timeline of the events leading up to the sentence:
Jan. 10, 2014: Hunter is indicted on eight felony charges. She is accused of forgery, backdating court documents to prevent prosecutors from appealing her rulings, misusing a court credit card to pay for legal filings in lawsuits against her, and illegally helping her brother by giving him documents related to his upcoming disciplinary hearing and arranging for him to get extra work hours.
Jan. 10, 2014: On the day of her indictment, Hunter sends an email to the juvenile court staff saying the county “was not ready for its first African-American Democrat judge.” She adds: "I understand many of the changes I made or was in the process of making were not always welcome." Hunter says she has “learned and understand that change is difficult for most people, especially after 110 years.” The email is titled, “Thank you and goodbye for now.”
Jan. 10, 2014: Hunter is suspended by the Ohio Supreme Court until her case is resolved. She continues to be paid at her annual salary of $121,350.
Jan. 11, 2014: Two hundred people attend a rally for Hunter at a Forest Park church. Her supporters claim she is a target of a political vendetta by county Republicans.
Jan. 14, 2014: Hunter is indicted on a ninth felony charge of theft for allegedly using her county credit card for non-travel purposes. With the additional charge, Hunter now face a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison.
Jan. 17, 2014: Hunter appears at her arraignment but doesn't speak. Her attorney enters her not-guilty pleas. She is freed on her own recognizance.
Feb. 13, 2004: Judge Sylvia Hendon, handling some of Hunter's cases, passes sentence on three juveniles in the "bored-beating" case. She sends one to a state mental health facility for juveniles for a year and two to Rite of Passage (formerly Hillcrest school), a secured school and residential facility, for nine months.
May 2, 2014: Hendon sentences the last of the six teens in the bored beating case to probation and a mental health diagnostic program. The final result: None of the six goes to juvenile prison. Five get probation. One goes to a mental health facility.
June 5, 2014: Hunter's attorney, Clyde Bennett II, claims the two special prosecutors, Croswell and Shiverdecker, are too close to Deters because they represented him in a criminal investigation and asks that charges against Hunter be dropped. No charges were filed against Deters.
Aug. 14, 2014: Hunter lashes out at Williams, her election opponent, during a court hearing after prosecutors claim she was "gaming the system" by not providing documents during discovery. "I take great exception to your disparagement of my name in this courtroom today. I'm not sure what you meant by the term that 'this defendant is gaming the system,' but let's be clear, the only gaming that is going on in Hamilton County is by the Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge John Williams the last nine months."
Aug. 24, 2014: Four days before Hunter's trial, prosecutor Joe Deters blames two shooting deaths on Hunter. An 18-year-old who was accused of murder and the man he allegedly shot may be alive today if Hunter had put the gunman behind bars as prosecutors recommended, Deters said in a statement. Police say Tywaun Thomas, 18, shot and killed 21-year-old Antwon Ward on Aug. 19 in Avondale. Thomas was shot by another suspect and died the next day. Deters said Thomas had 36 convictions when he went before Hunter for sentencing last October on a charge of aggravated drug trafficking involving heroin. Hunter sentenced Thomas to out-patient treatment, school and work and placed him on electronic monitoring, Deters said. "Judge Hunter has consistently said that she is doing this, 'for the children,'" said Deters. "Well, now we have a dead one.”
Sept. 8, 2014: Before jury selection, Hunter's attorney asks Judge Norbert Nadel for a change of venue, claiming Hunter can't get a fair trial because of heavy pre-trial publicity. Nadel declines. A jury is seated with two men and 10 women. Three are African-Americans. The nine counts charge that Hunter committed theft in office by charging $1,100 in unauthorized filing fees on her county credit card, committed forgery and tampered with evidence by signing backdated judicial entries to give the defense an edge and to prevent prosecutors from filing appeals, provided private court documents to her brother - a juvenile court jailer - before his disciplinary hearing, and unlawfully arranged for her brother to work 6 1/2 hours of overtime overseeing security around her courtroom.
Sept. 10, 2014: Before opening statements, Hunter steps up to the podium and asks Nadel to step down, saying she doesn't think Nadel can be fair. "I just wanted to put on the record that I would like to make an oral motion to remove yourself as judge from this case, because I do not believe you can rule impartially and fairly. I just wanted that for the record," Hunter said. Nadel refuses.
Sept. 24-26, 2014: It's the third week of Hunter's trial and her brother and his attorney drop bombshells with their testimony. Hunter's brother, Stephen Hunter, who worked in the juvenile jail but was fired for punching an inmate, was only on the stand for about three minutes but gave the most damaging testimony so far against Hunter. He testified that the judge gave him private court documents before his disciplinary hearing - including the inmate's medical records. Two days later, his attorney, Janaya Trotter, testified that she refused to accept some of the documents from Hunter's brother, saying it would have been "unethical" coming from a judge. One of the nine felony charges against the judge accuses her of using her position to illegally help her brother.
Oct. 11, 2014: The jury comes out of the deliberations room and tells Nadel they have a verdict on Count 6 - unlawful interest in a public contract - but they're deadlocked on the others. Nadel asks the jury if the verdict in the envelope is their verdict, then he seals it, tells them not to discuss it with anyone and to come back on Tuesday - after Columbus Day - and try to reach a verdict on the other counts.
Oct. 14, 2014: The jury finds Hunter guilty on Count 6, but it's hung on the other counts. The one guilty verdict could send Hunter to jail and permanently disqualify her from the bench. Nadel said he would consider jail time for Hunter, saying Hunter's conduct "dealt a serious blow to public confidence in our system of justice. "It's a sad day," Nadel said as he reprimanded Hunter after reading the verdict. "I believe the evidence showed serious ethical violations which included, among others: nepotism, improper judicial temperament, tardiness in rendering decisions and denying public access to your courtroom," Nadel said. "Since ascending to the bench, Judge Hunter has gone from great role model to convicted felon."
Oct. 21, 2014: The Ohio Supreme Court suspends Hunter's law license. because of her conviction. She also loses her salary: $121,350 a year.
Oct. 31, 2014: One by one, the three black jurors recant their guilty votes on Count 6 and claim the jury forewoman intimidated them into voting to convict Hunter. The third juror, like the other two, swears in an affidavit that she would have renounced her guilty vote if the judge had polled the jurors individually when the verdict was read, attorney Clyde Bennett II said. He filed a motion for a new trial on Oct. 22 based on similar sworn claims by the other two black jurors. Bennett's motion claims Nadel made a prejudicial error by refusing Bennett's request to poll the jury after the verdict was read. At the time, Nadel said it wasn't necessary because he had polled the jury four days earlier when the verdict was sealed. The third juror, like the others, said there were "racial overtones" during deliberations, Bennett said.
Nov. 17, 2014: Hunter's attorney files a new motion that claims the jury forewoman lied in the jury selection. Bennett says the forewoman falsely answered no when asked if she had ever been the victim of a crime. It alleges she was sexually abused by a priest when she was a teen and has "bias against the church." That's relevant, he says, because Hunter is a minister.
Nov, 20, 2014 and Dec. 4, 2014: Nadel rejects motions for a new trial on the black jurors' votes and on the jury forewoman.
Dec. 5. 2014: Nadel sentences Hunter to six months in the Justice Center starting Dec. 29, plus one year of community control sanctions and court costs. Nevertheless, Hunter was all smiles as she left the courtroom, as usual. "She's a remarkable woman. She's a woman of faith. She's strong right now,'' Bennett said. Hunter spent a lot of time at the hearing with her head down, reading her bible. "She told me, 'To God be the glory,'' Bennett said. A total of 18 character witnesses for Hunter pleaded with Nadel for three hours to spare her jail time. But Nadel said the evidence showed that "the criminal conduct of Tracie Hunter has dealt a very serious blow to public confidence in our judicial system."
Dec. 9, 2014: Nadel announces he won't stay Hunter's sentence, and that brings strong criticism from Hamilton County Democrats. Chairman Tim Burke called it a "cause of serious concern" in a community divided by racial issues. Burke released a letter to Nadel endorsed by 56 Democrats asking the judge to delay Hunter's sentence pending appeal. "All across the country, serious questions of trust are being raised about the fairness of our justice system in matters involving race," the letter says. "To sentence to jail the first African-American judge to ever be elected to our Juvenile Court … will only deepen that mistrust."
Dec. 26, 2014: The Ohio Supreme Court stays Hunter's sentence while she appeals.
Jan. 23, 2015: Prosecutor Joe Deters says the special prosecutors plan to retry Hunter on the eight hung-jury counts, and the new trial could cost taxpayers as much as $1 million. That's in addition to the estimated $1.5 million in legal costs for prosecuting and defending Hunter over the years. Bennett asks Judge Patrick Dinkelacker, who has replaced the retired Nadel on the bench, to disqualify himself because he was part of the 1st District Court of Appeals that ruled against Hunter. Dinkelacker refuses.
March 25, 2015: County Commissioner Todd Portune, a Democrat, says retrying Hunter is a waste of money. Hunter and about 15 supporters went to the county commission meeting to protest the prosecutor's insistence. "We are spending a million dollars to continue the persecution -- and I say 'persecution,' not 'prosecution' -- of this lady," Bishop Bobby Hilton said.
April 17, 2015: The Ohio Supreme Court rules against a motion from Hunter and keeps Dinkelacker on the case.
Aug. 19, 2015: Hunter files a federal lawsuit against Deters and 18 other county leaders and attorneys, and Deters calls it proof that she "needs professional help." Hunter accuses them of violating her civil rights and leading to an unfair trial. Defendants include Nadel, Dinkelacker, Juvenile Court Judge John Williams, Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Curt Kissinger, Court of Appeal judges and more. "If anyone doesn’t believe that this woman needs professional help, all they need to do is read this lawsuit,” Deters tells WCPO.
Oct. 6, 2015: Hunter selects Louis Sirkin, First Amendment and criminal defense attorney, to represent her after Clyde Bennett II withdraws.
Nov. 24, 2015: Hunter tells confidants she wants to run for her juvenile court seat in 2016. State Sen. Cecil Thomas passes the word at a meeting of the Hamilton County Democratic Party's Executive Committee. But that's a problem on two fronts. The party has already endorsed local attorney Darrell Payne, and the Ohio Supreme Court suspended her from the bench upon her conviction.
Dec. 21, 2015: Saying her felony conviction makes her ineligible, the Hamilton County Board of Elections says it won't allow Hunter to run for her seat again.
Dec. 30, 2015: Dinkelacker denies Hunter's motion to drop the remaining charges against her. Hunter's attorneys claim Hunter has been the victim of "vindictive prosecution" in retaliation for rulings she made against the prosecutor's office. Her trial is set to begin Jan. 19.
Jan. 15, 2016: The Ohio Court of Appeals upholds Hunter's conviction. Hunter charged that the prosecution’s commentary during rebuttal closing arguments deprived her of a fair trial. But Judge Russell Mock said her conviction was based on “sufficient evidence” and that “the trial court properly denied her motion for an acquittal.”
Jan. 19, 2016: Hamilton County special prosecutors drop the remaining eight charges against Hunter.
Jan. 21, 2016: The Ohio Supreme Court continues the stay of sentence for Hunter while she appeals.
Feb. 25, 2016: A dozen Hunter supporters claimed the prosecutor's office tampered with critical evidence in her case, and they demanded an independent investigation. They claim a computer forensic expert hired by Hunter discovered that “instead of preserving critical computer evidence, it appears the State or someone in the Juvenile Court intentionally allowed the hard drive, which contained information about backdating, on one computer to be wiped clean and sold at an auction in December 2013.” They say that evidence could have proved Hunter's innocence but it was intentionally left out of the court proceedings.
May 17, 2016: By a 4-3 vote, the Ohio Supreme Court decides not to hear Hunter's appeal. The court had stayed Hunter's sentence for nearly 17 months, but that stay ran out when her appeals did. She was ordered to begin serving her sentence on May 20.
May 19, 2016: Federal Judge Timothy Black stays Hunter's sentence a day before she was scheduled to begin serving six months in the Justice Center. Her attorneys filed a motion citing Hunter's back problems and unfavorable jail conditions and also petitioned for a writ of habeas corpus. It claims misconduct by special prosecutor Scott Croswell III and errors by Judge Norbert Nadel violated Hunter's constitutional rights during her trial. They also claim the appellate court misapplied federal law when it upheld her conviction on a felony charge.
May 20, 2016: Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker said he would not defy Black's ruling staying Hunter's sentence but he expressed doubt about the federal judge's authority in the case. He said Black "has, in my opinion, stepped into state proceedings."
May 11, 2017: United States Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz writes in a 68-page report and recommendation that Hunter had not proven her case.
May 29, 2019: Black rules against Hunter, dismissing Hunter’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus and vacating the stay of sentence that Black himself had ordered a full three years ago. The case now goes back to Dinkelacker.
What do you think?
Was the ruling fair?
Was Tracie's behavior in the courtroom childish?
Let us know your thoughts/point of view!