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Judge Hunter Arraigned, Angry Words Exchanged After Hearing
CINCINNATI (Joe Webb) -- It was a historic day at the Hamilton County courthouse as a sitting judge appears in front of another judge faced with a list of serious charges.
Suspended juvenile court Judge Tracie Hunter was arraigned on nine felony charges Friday all stemming from her work on the bench.
There was quite a crowd in Judge Nadel's courtroom Friday morning. Most of them supporters of Judge Hunter who think she's being railroaded out of office. But both sides were represented and the rhetoric got a little heated.
It's rare to see a judge before a judge and Friday it was not only unusual but unusually brief. Judge Tracie Hunter was in court for less than three minutes. Just long enough to hear the charges against her, plead not guilty and be granted an OR bond.
She said nothing as she left. But her friends had plenty to say.
"I think it's purely party politics. They did not want a Democrat judge on that bench."
Hunter had to win a federal lawsuit to get elected. Her time on the bench has been marred by allegations of backlogs and limited access to her courtroom. The nine-count indictment alleges she created court documents and improperly backdated them, used a county credit card for personal legal filings and improperly helped her brother who was a former court employee.
Supporters say all the charges are trumped up and will ask federal authorities to investigate her investigation.
"Defense attorneys that have cases to be heard on the juvenile court under Judge Hunter become special prosecutors and investigate someone they are supposed to be arguing in front of. It's a major conflict."
Bishop Hilton claimed Hunter's case was purely politics but former Cincinnati Councilman Cecil Thomas claimed race was an issue. Other courthouse insiders see Hunter as incompetent and should be held accountable.
"Our system only works when everyone plays by the rules and these allegations would seem to indicate Judge Hunter didn't."
"It's not a happy day in Hamilton County. It's not. But at least it shows, to this point, the system works and people are held accountable."
Mike Allen knows all about being held accountable and he also was right about it not being a happy day. After talking with us, Allen and Thomas, two former Cincinnati police officers, had words.
Judge Hunter has been suspended with pay from the juvenile bench, pending the outcome of her case. Most think she will fight the charges and not work out a plea agreement. She is due back in court March 4th.
If convicted, Judge Hunter faces up to 14 years in prison.