CINCINNATI (AP) — A suspended Ohio judge has been allowed a delay of her six-month jail sentence for her 2014 state court conviction for unlawful interest in a public contract as she asks a federal court to permanently release her.
A federal judge granted the delay for Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter on Thursday, a day before she was to begin her sentence.
The Ohio Supreme Court this week declined to hear Hunter’s appeal of her conviction on the charge involving her brother. A Hamilton County jury deadlocked on other charges, and those and other counts were dismissed earlier this year.
Hunter, a Democrat, took the bench in Hamilton County in 2012 after a lengthy legal battle over disputed election results. She has called the prosecution a “political takedown” by county Republicans.
In state court Friday, Hamilton County Judge Patrick Dinkelacker said he would consider issuing an arrest warrant for Hunter when she didn’t show up for what was expected to be the final sentencing hearing that morning. She and her attorney arrived later and Dinkelacker, instead, questioned a federal judge’s authority to delay a sentence in a state case.
But Dinkelacker said he wouldn’t defy U.S. District Judge Timothy Black’s order and Hunter could remain free for now. He said he would send her to jail if she doesn’t show up on time for an Aug. 15 hearing.
Hunter’s attorney David Singleton said, “We are delighted that the federal court granted a stay and that the state court in the end decided to follow it.”
A message left for special prosecutor R. Scott Croswell III wasn’t immediately returned.
In requesting the federal stay, Hunter’s attorneys said she didn’t receive a fair trial in 2014 and alleged prosecutorial misconduct and mistakes by a judge. They said in the written request that the case was “marred by constitutional violations” and that jail would aggravate Hunter’s health problems.
Black wrote that Hunter can petition a federal court to release her from her sentence “if her constitutional right to a fair trial was denied because the proceedings ‘so infected the trial with unfairness as to make the resulting conviction a denial of due process.'” He granted the order while the federal court reviews the case to determine if that occurred.
This story has been corrected to show that a federal judge granted the delay of Juvenile Court Judge Tracie Hunter’s jail sentence on Thursday, not Friday.