Cincinnati, OH – A former Ohio juvenile court judge was dragged from the courtroom on Monday after being sentenced to serve six months in jail for mishandling confidential documents (video below).
Chaos erupted inside the Hamilton County courtroom when Common Pleas Judge Patrick Dinkelacker upheld ex-judge Tracie Hunter’s 2014 conviction and six-month jail sentence, AOL reported.
As soon as the sentence was handed down, Hunter’s supporters began screaming and wailing in the gallery, video footage showed.
A woman wearing a shirt that read “Justice for Judge Tracie M. Hunter” made a beeline for the area where the former judge was standing, and was immediately apprehended by police.
Hunter refused to walk out of the courtroom, and instead fell limp as a deputy tried to lead her away.
As the situation crumbled, the deputy grabbed the uncooperative defendant under her arms and dragged her out.
“This city is going to burn!” one spectator yelled out, according to WCPO.
According to court records, Hunter’s brother, Stephen Hunter, was working as a youth corrections officer for Hamilton County when he allegedly hit a juvenile offender while at work on July 7, 2013, NBC News reported.
When Stephen’s employer recommended that he be fired, then-Judge Hunter obtained confidential documents about the alleged victim, and passed them on to Stephen, prosecutors said.
Stephen then used those documents to keep his job, according to AOL.
Hunter was charged for her role in the leak, and was convicted of having an unlawful interest in a public contract, which is a fourth-degree felony.
Eight other charges were dismissed after the jury failed to arrive at a verdict, WCPO reported.
She spent the next five years appealing her sentence in both federal and state court, according to AOL.
In May, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black ruled that there was enough evidence against Hunter for her sentencing to proceed, and turned the matter over to Dinkelacker.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley – one of Hunter’s many supporters – sent a letter to Dinkelacker urging him not to impose a jail sentence on the former judge, WCPO reported.
“I appreciate that she has been convicted but serving prison time seems to me to be disproportionate to her crime,” Cranley said in the letter.
The mayor also declared that Hunter had been punished enough because of the hit to her career, and argued that the offense she was convicted of was not violent.
Her attorney, David Singleton, agreed with Cranley, and told the judge that Hunter “lost everything” as a result of her conviction.
“She’s lost everything almost,” Singleton told AOL. “She lost her job as a judge, her law license, her ability to earn an income. She’s lost peace of mind. Please don’t add to Tracie Hunter’s burden, the burden she’s carried for these past five years.”
Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the National Action Network Bishop Bobby Hilton also urged the court to go easy on Hunter, and claimed that “blacks are not respected” within the local community.
“All we want is fairness, fairness,” he told the court. “Not special treatment, but fair treatment.”
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters told the judge that he was concerned Hunter suffers from an undiagnosed “mental condition,” and noted that she never expressed any remorse for having committed the offense she was convicted of, WCPO reported.
He also recommended that she serve the six months in jail.
Meanwhile, special prosecutor Scott Croswell testified that Hunter simply believed she was entitled to do whatever she wanted.
“What she wants to do is play by her own set of rules,” Croswell told the judge during Hunter’s hearing, according to AOL. “That’s the very attitude and the very conduct that put her in the predicament that she’s in and, frankly, has caused all this pain to her and caused all this turmoil to the community.”
In addition to the numerous letters Dinkelacker discussed during the hearing, he said he also received 45 postcards at his private address, demanding that he exonerate the former judge, WCPO reported.
Most of them were sent anonymously, and seven of them began with the line, “I’m a registered voter,” he said.
“If the intent was to intimidate me in any way, that has flat-out failed,” Dinkelacker told the packed courtroom. “I will never, ever, ever bow to that type of pressure, veiled threats, vicious comments, lies about me or anything else.”
Dinkelacker added that no judge should ever be treated the way he was treated during Hunter’s case.
The courtroom chaos spilled out into the hallway as Hunter’s enraged supporters made their way through the building and out into the courtyard.
Baptist Ministers Conference of Cincinnati President Reverend Mark Bomar threatened to “shut this city down” over the ruling.
“We cannot keep allowing this to happen to our people,” Bomar railed.
In addition to her jail sentence, Hunter will also be required to pay court costs in the amount of $34,515.66, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.
You can watch footage of the courtroom chaos in the video below: