Prosecutors Say There is No Evidence Showing Convicted Ohio Judge Deserves New Trial

Tracie Hunter with attorney Clyde Bennett II during her October trial./The Enquirer (Photo: Leigh Taylor)
Tracie Hunter with attorney Clyde Bennett II during her October trial./The Enquirer
(Photo: Leigh Taylor)

Tracie Hunter shouldn’t be given a new trial based on “juror misconduct” because Hunter knew those allegations were untrue, special prosecutors alleged in a motion blasting Hunter and her attorney.

Hunter’s motion for a new trial alleging misconduct by the forewoman of the jury that convicted her of a felony shouldn’t be a surprise, Special Prosecutors Merlyn Shiverdecker and R. Scott Croswell wrote in the motion, filed Monday. It “is merely a continuance of her personal attacks made over the years of anyone (who) disagrees with her or challenges her authority,” they wrote. “The list is long and distinguished of those whose integrity and morality she has attacked.”

Hunter, a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judge, was convicted in October of having an unlawful interest in a public contract. She earlier asked for a new trial, saying the three black jurors in her case wanted to change their verdict to not guilty. Judge Norbert Nadel denied that motion last month. Now Hunter wants a new trial, claiming Sandy Kirkham, the forewoman on her jury, lied under oath while filling out a juror questionnaire in preparation for Hunter’s trial.

The Enquirer is naming Kirkham because she filed a sworn statement with the prosecutors’ Monday filing.

Kirkham wrote she’d not been the victim of a crime, but Hunter’s attorney, Clyde Bennett II, wrote that Kirkham never revealed she’d been molested at age 16 by a youth pastor. Bennett insisted that was a crime, proving Kirkham lied and therefore Hunter should get a new trial.

In her affidavit, Kirkham wrote she didn’t report the incident until 2004. Both the Hamilton County and Franklin County prosecutors’ offices told her that was not a crime. The Ohio attorney general’s office also told her there was insufficient evidence to conduct a criminal investigation.

The laws regarding clergy sex abuse, special prosecutors noted, didn’t become law until 2006 – 34 years after Kirkham said she was molested. “Pretty simple, if the conduct was not a crime when it took place, there cannot be a victim of crime, hence a honest response on the questionnaire,” prosecutors wrote in the Monday filing.

Bennett, they added, should have researched the law – or at least Googled the forewoman – before making “irresponsible allegations” while perhaps misrepresenting when he knew about the forewoman’s history. “Clyde Bennett II does not allege that his prevarications, even if true, would have provided a valid basis for a for-cause challenge(,) only his self-serving statement that he would have” removed the forewoman from the jury.

Bennett found those accusations insufferable.

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SOURCE: The Cincinnati Enquirer – Kimball Perry

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