- Associated Press - Friday, October 10, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) - A southwest Ohio judge on Friday told jurors to keep trying after they said they have agreed on only one of nine charges in the felony trial of a suspended juvenile court judge.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Norbert Nadel also told them not to disclose their decision on the single count against Judge Tracie Hunter. It was sealed for the time being.

The jurors who began deliberating Wednesday afternoon will resume Tuesday. Monday is the Columbus Day holiday.

Jurors reported agreement on a count of unlawful interest in a public contract, involving Hunter’s brother’s employment.

Hunter’s attorney Clyde Bennett II said earlier that jurors have a lot of testimony, exhibits and arguments to weigh in a trial that began Sept. 8. But he told WCPO-TV that the prolonged wait for a verdict was “very stressful … it’s nerve-wracking. It’s emotional.”

Hunter, 47, a Democrat, contends that she was the victim of political retribution after winning a lengthy legal battle over disputed 2010 election results. Special prosecutors appointed for her trial rejected that claim, and have described Hunter as contentious and manipulative.

The nine felony charges include evidence-tampering, forgery and theft in office. They stem from allegations that she backdated court documents, misused a county credit card, and improperly intervened in her brother’s employment. After her indictment in January, the Ohio Supreme Court disqualified Hunter from continuing to hear cases.

In the criminal case, Hunter personally asked Nadel to recuse himself, which he refused to do. He also refused defense requests to move the trial out of Hamilton County because of publicity.

In opening statements Sept. 10, special prosecutor R. Scott Croswell III described Hunter as a systematic lawbreaker. She had conflicts with almost everyone she came in contact with in juvenile court, and she broke the rules of the court and the laws of the state, Croswell said.

Bennett described Hunter as a compassionate judge and woman of faith, who riled political enemies by trying to bring reforms to the juvenile court system. She wanted to help children, he said. He said her indictment resulted from “political war” in Hamilton County.



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