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Ex-Employee Makes Allegations Against Hamilton County Juvenile Justice System
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Jeff Hirsh) -- A former attorney in the Hamilton County public defenders office says the juvenile justice system is stacked against juveniles and says controversial Judge Tracie Hunter is unfairly getting blamed.
Backers of Judge Tracie Hunter called reporters to a radio station this morning with the promise that, "Silence will be broken," about juvenile justice in Hamilton County. This would show that critics of Judge Hunter are wrong.
But while a former attorney in the public defender's office alleged plenty of problems in the system, there was minimal connection with Judge Hunter ... good or bad.
"I came forth today in defense of the children in the Hamilton County juvenile court system, past, present and future."
Susannah Meyer worked for the public defenders office for three years. She was fired in January of this year, after she says she filed a brief alleging prosecutorial misconduct. In a statement made on the radio, Meyer said she had been prevented from vigorously defending her juvenile clients, because her superiors told her not to file objections, appeals, or subpoena records.
"Sounds like a conspiracy to violate due process by instituting a policy that prohibits effective assistance of counsel," she said.
"My attorneys were slandered and I'm not going to stand for it and I want to set the record straight," said public defender Ray Faller.
Public defender Ray Faller said his attorneys take a back seat to no one in defending the rights of a juvenile.
"There's a perception out there sometimes that you get a public defender you get what's called jargon, 'a public pretender.' I can't stand that. It's not true. Our lawyers are the hardest fighting lawyers in juvenile court that you will find."
Susannah Meyer made her statement on The Buzz radio station, "I have no agenda. This is not about me."
This was basically billed as a news conference in defense of Tracie Hunter, but most of what Susannah Meyers had to say predates Tracie Hunter being on the bench and predates the current administration in juvenile court.
In fact she only cited one of Judge Hunter's cases. But she said that case is similar to other cases and she said those other cases and Judge Hunter's indicate a problem.
Meyer continued, "This isn't really just about Judge Hunter either. It's about the children. And it's about the children who have a due process right to a fair trial and to effective representation and to be rehabilitated."
But public defender Faller said the reference to Judge Hunter's case makes no sense because in that particular case, the public defender is siding with Judge Hunter, not the prosecution.
Public defender Faller said, "Let me set the record straight, because the way she explained it is clueless."
Meantime, Judge Hunter remains off the bench after being taken from the courthouse in an ambulance last week for the second time in less than a month. A member of her staff said the Judge would have no comment on what was said Monday.
Public defender Faller said because Meyer has filed an equal opportunity complaint over her firing, he cannot comment on the specifics of her termination. However, he said she is not the only one who is no longer with the office.
Faller became a public defender in August of last year. Most of Susannah Meyers allegations cover a period before that, and people who are no longer there.