By Associated Press - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - A southwest Ohio grand jury Tuesday added a ninth felony charge against a juvenile court judge who has been suspended.

Judge Tracie Hunter was indicted on a count of misuse of credit cards. The Hamilton County grand jury action follows last week’s indictments on eight counts, including allegations that Hunter used county credit cards to pay court fees stemming from lawsuits against her.

The latest charge alleges that she used a county card to pay Supreme Court filing fees, with misuse in the range of $1,000 to $7,500.

Hunter hasn’t responded directly to the charges against her but has indicated she believes she is being targeted because of changes she was bringing to the court. She has been disqualified by the Ohio Supreme Court because of the pending charges, which included allegations she backdated court records.

The state Supreme Court has appointed retired juvenile judge Tom Lipps to preside over Hunter’s daily docket of adoptions, foster care and custody issues. Appellate court judge Sylvia Hendon and Presiding Juvenile Court Judge John Williams are handling Hunter’s criminal case docket.

Lipps had served as a juvenile court judge for 12 years and had already been appointed to help clear a case backlog. He will continue working on reducing the juvenile case backlog, which is down to about 50 cases from the earlier 80.

“Lipps obviously has a big task with the backlog,” Williams told The Cincinnati Enquirer. “The parties are certainly anxious to get those resolved, and we don’t want to slow that down.”

Hendon is a former juvenile court judge who’s now a judge with the Cincinnati-based Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals.

Hunter is scheduled for a court appearance Friday. No attorney was listed for her in court records.

WXIX-TV of Cincinnati reported she sent an email to staffers saying many of the changes she was making “were not always welcome” and that the Hamilton County juvenile court wasn’t ready for an African-American and Democrat.

She added that change “always comes with great personal and professional sacrifices and cost.”

The Ohio Supreme Court recently held Hunter in contempt for barring Cincinnati Enquirer reporters from her courtroom after a conflict over publishing the names of juveniles charged in 2012 with badly beating a man in suburban North College Hill.

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