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Cincinnati, OH- November 16, 2016 A Tale of Two Trials

Cincinnati braced for the outcome of a second high profile case in two years in
an already racially charged climate. In the first case, Judge Hunter, the first
African American Female and the first Democratic judge in the history of the
juvenile court in Hamilton County stood trial for nine trumped up felony charges
all pertaining to her obligations and duties as a judge. In the second case,
former UC Cop Raymond Tensing shot unarmed motorist Sam Dubose during a
routine traffic stop, after Dubose was stopped for a missing a front license
plate. Protesters outside of the Tensing trial pointed out the striking contrast
between the Hunter trial and that of white Police Officer Tensing. They were
especially frustrated by the Prosecutors seeming reluctance and rhetoric
surrounding whether or not to retry Tensing. After spending over $5 million
dollars pursing Judge Hunter in court, County Prosecutor Joe Deters balked at
the idea of retrying Tensing, despite the estimates of only $250,000 spent on
the Tensing case. The Hunter case is in appeals court right now, and the county
continues to spend tax dollars on that and in the Board of Elections continuing
efforts to keep fighting Hunter in court to try to prevent her from voting and
the right to run for office.

In statements to the media, Terina Dubose, the sister of Sam Dubose, stated
that she believed that the evidence was compelling against Tensing and it
should have resulted in a definitive conviction. She says the family would like to
see the same charges brought against Tensing. The prevailing sentiment among
those in the community, who took to the streets in protest after the trial
resulted in a hung jury, was that the case should have been fairly easy for a
seasoned and veteran prosecutor to win. Especially, one like Deters who boasts
that he has never lost a case.

Clergy from across the city held a press conference on Monday, November 14th
after the Tensing trial, to express outrage over the prosecutor not making a
strong enough case to get a conviction. They made comparisons to the Hunter
trial and said that Deters raising the issue of cost was absurd, considering the
untold sums of money still being spent to keep Hunter off the bench. Some
even questioned whether the prosecutor brought charges against Tensing that
could stick. Referring to the bodycam video, which captured audio and video of
the police shooting, Bishop Bobby Hilton of The Word of Deliverance Church
said, there was a witness there that could not lie. He and about 50 church
leaders called for Deters to retry the Tensing case. Reverend Mark Bomar, the
head of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Cincinnati & Vicinity said, I dont
agree that Cincinnati is a model city for police and community relations, and this
case is proof that not much has changed between police and community
relations. Bomar went on to say that City leaders are always calling on church
leaders to calm the community during turbulent times, its time the prosecutor
does his part in keeping the peace. Bomar said he believes it is the
prosecutors duty to retry the case, to ensure that the community continues to
be peaceable.
During Judge Hunters trial, the jury was hung on 8 of the original nine charges,
and evidence during the six-week trial proved her innocence on all counts. The
jury ultimately convicted her of something that was inconsistent with the bill of
particulars and wasnt something she was actually charged with. That case is
currently under review on appeal with the U.S. District Court. Despite
admissions and evidence from the first trial, prosecutors fired up the grill and
cocked their riffles for a second shot at Hunter, as they geared up for a second
January 2016 trial. In the case of the former UC cop, even after Ray Tensing
admitted in depositions that he intentionally shot Samuel Dubose, the jury
composed mostly of White males was still reluctant to find him guilty on either

Prosecutor Joe Deters and his personal divorce lawyers brought the charges
against Hunter, a pastor and judge who has lived her life fighting for the rights
of abused and neglected children, after she filed ethics complaints against him
and two attorneys in his office for suing her (in her landmark Board of Elections
case) and representing her (in cases they and their cronies filed against her) at
the same time. Prosecutors had also demonstrated their discontent when
Judge Hunter also began requesting an audit of the juvenile court, and when she
challenged them on their refusal to turn over exculpatory evidence that could
have potentially proven childrens innocence.

In Judge Hunters case, the public witnessed a trial riddled with disparaging
statements directed towards the judge by a peer judge who should by law never
have been able to preside over her case, and over 51 instances of unethical and
derogatory statements by Deters personal divorce attorneys, R. Scott Croswell
III, and Merlyn Shiverdecker that Deters secured a million dollar contract for to
prosecute Hunter. The proceedings can be best described as a kangaroo court.
Tensing was afforded a 25 page juror questionnaire, with 194 questions to
ensure that the selected jury was most favorable to Tensing. His questionnaire
raised questions such as Are you affiliated with groups such as Black Lives
Matter? Judge Hunter was confined to a two-page juror questionnaire, where
members of the jury pool admitted that they were friends, relatives, and
neighbors of her political foes. One juror, Sandra Kirkham even lied on her jury
questionnaire without consequence. She had been sexually abused by a pastor
as a teen and young adult, and still carried a measurable amount of hostility
towards pastors.

The jury pool in Hunters case also consisted of a county employee, and several
attorneys. In Tensings case, Black attorneys took to the community to explain
what a fair trial consisted of. They pointed out that courts have held that
ethics and case law supports not having attorneys, journalists, and certain types
of individuals on juries. Judge Hunters jury consisted of employees of WCPO
who sued Judge Hunter, along with an attorney from the law firm that
represented WCPO in that suit, and the wife of an attorney from that same firm
became the jury foreperson in Hunters case.

The jury in Hunters case also consisted of a woman who during voir dire
described herself as the best friend of Assistant County Prosecutor Katie
Pridemore, who testified in the case. There was also a close friend of former
Court Administrator Curt Kissinger and juvenile court Judge John Williams (who
lost to Hunter in the 2010 election and was appointed to the bench by
Governor John Kasich, while he and Hunter were still fighting in court to
determine the true winner of that election). There were also four jurors that
said they couldnt be fair at the outset of the Hunter trial and Judge Nadel
allowed them to stay on the jury.

Also on Hunters jury was the neighbor if Judge Heather Russell, and an
employee of WCPO, who had sued her for not allowing them access to her
courtroom after they deliberately defied her court order and published the
names and faces of accused elementary and junior high school children. The
jury foreperson in Hunters trial was the wife of one of the WCPO attorneys.
There was also the mother of one of the police officers from the North College
Hill neighborhood where the accused children were from. Hunter had to have
personal security, because of the aggressive paparazzi-like media
representatives and the numerous threats on her life.

One crazed Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, Kimball Perry boasted that he was
inches from her face in the courtroom. Hunters trial ended in a hung jury on
eight charges, and one felony conviction despite the fact that all three black
jurors on Hunters jury came forward to say that guilty was not their verdict,
after Judge Nadel refused to poll that jury after the verdict was read in open

Alternatively, Tensings jury was composed of six white males, four white
women, and two Black females, and members of the public were for the most
part not allowed to enter the courtroom and were thus unable to personally see
those jurors. During deliberations, Tensings jury was sequestered and driven to
a hotel without Internet or television access to prevent any outside influence
during deliberations. Hunters jury was allowed to come and go as they pleased;
even after sealing the lone jury conviction prior to the completion of
deliberations the jury was allowed to go home. In the Hunter case, juror
questionnaires were shared with the Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who was privy
to the composition of the jury and had knowledge that one of those jurors was
a neighbor to Judge Heather Russell, and several attorneys who practiced
before judges at the courthouse revealed that they were aware of Hunters
verdict before it was announced in open court. After giving that Enquirer the
jury questionnaires from the Hunter trial, the Court denied the questionnaires to
members of small and Black media outlets that had requested it.

For the Tensing trial, security was tightened and no one aside from the media
was allowed to carry cell phones, tablets, or laptop computers. The courthouse
even instituted a second security checkpoint down the hall from the trial, and
only a few from the public were allowed to enter the courtroom. Throughout
most of the Tensing trial, even the media was barred from photographing
Tensing, aside from the lone Enquirer photographer and the designated video
pool camera. On occasion, both the defense and prosecuting attorneys were
sequestered and prevented from making statements to the media about the
trial. The Court didnt put any such protections in place for Judge Hunter, and
instead daily she was stormed in the hallways by paparazzi-like media. One
Enquirer reporter even taunted her and boasted on his Twitter account that he
was six inches from where her face, and had a privileged seat right next to
Hunter and her attorney.
Although Prosecutor Joe Deters accused Hunter of murder just one business
day before the start of her trial, based upon a decision she made on a teens
non-serious marijuana charge, Judge Hunter never killed anyone. The teen that
had appeared before her in an unrelated case over a year previously was
involved in a double homicide. The maximum sentence that kid could have
received on the marijuana charge was six-months, but Deters felt Hunter should
have locked him up for several years. Tensing on the other hand made
statements during depositions that his killing of Samuel Dubose was intentional,
according to Prosecutors.

Evidence presented during the Tensing trial also unveiled that he was wearing a
confederate flag t-shirt under his uniform, which as Bishop Hilton points out,
provides some context behind his mindset at the time of the shooting. In court,
Tensing testified that he received the t-shirt from family members on vacation
and didnt know what the t-shirt meant to the Black community. Just three
weeks before Tensing shot Dubose, the Confederate Flag became a national
conversation piece when a self described neo-Nazi White Supremacist, Dylann
Roof wrote a racist manifesto and then went on a rampage shooting nine
African Americans in Charleston, North Carolina in a church during a prayer
service at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Among those Roof killed
includes senior pastor and state senator Clementa C. Pinckney. Protesters felt
that more than likely Tensing was wearing the t-shirt in solidarity with Roof.
Tensings claims that he was unaware of the flags meaning left many in the
community outraged at the thought that he would insult the intelligence of the
12-panel jury. They used video footage to impeach Tensings testimony that his
arm was caught in the steering wheel.

The numerous differences in the proceedings begs the question for some Black
leaders of what exactly constitutes a fair trial? The court went to great pains
to protect Tensings interest and his right to a fair trial, and despite the fact
that the entire country was privy to video and audio testimony that
demonstrated the manner in which Sam Dubose was gunned down by Tensing,
he remains a free man, while the Prosecutor raises the issue of the cost of
trying him again; while Hunter on the other hand is fighting for her freedom
after receiving a six-month jail sentence for a conviction on something she was
never charged with.

(2091 words, incl. title)
Vanessa Enoch, Ph.D. Candidate
(513) 549-4622