Judge Richard Baumgartner disbarred by Tennessee Supreme Court

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Ex-judge Richard Baumgartner is disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court as his fall from grace continues.

The state's Board of Professional Responsibility says after its own probe, Baumgartener submitted an affidavit agreeing to disbarment.

A TBI investigation earlier this year revealed Baumgartner had purchased prescription pain pills from a convicted felon under his supervision. He pleaded guilty to official misconduct in March.

Baumgartner was sentenced to two years of judicial diversion, which if completed will wipe his record clean.

For many in Knox County, the former judge was the face of justice.

It's next step in a downward spiral for former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner.

"He's not able to defend against the allegations and consenting to disbarment," said Nancy Jones, chief disciplinary council for the board.

Unable to defend his guilty plea, his official misconduct with prescription drugs now cost him his right to practice.

"He cannot be associated with any office in which the practice of law is conducted," said Jones.

After ruling on dozens of Knox County's most prominent cases, his own case caught attention of the TBI. His abuse of pills and power stunned a community with respect for the man and his office.

"When I was before him, I had the highest regard for him as a jurist. I'm sorry for him and his family that it's come to this," said Ted Lavit. Lavit is on the defense for Vanessa Coleman, a quarter of the crew found guilty in the Christian Newsom torture killings trials.

"Judge Baumgartner I believe had some physical, serious physical problems," said Lavit.

That said, "I have a job to do on behalf of my client," he said.

And as ground for a new trial, Lavit says he plans to raise questions about Baumgartner's drug use.

"I attend to pursue my pending motions for a new trial. And verdicts no withstanding the verdict."

Local 8 News talked to Baumgartner's attorney, Don Bosch. "This is part of the process, and Judge Baumgartner knew that," said Bosch."Judge Baumgartner is doing very well right now. He's getting healthier by the day, and is looking forward to new challenges in the community."

It's not clear how likely a re-trial would be, disbarment is not forever. The former judge could petition for reinstatement in five years.

All four of the defendants are due back in court Friday to ask for new trials. Stay with Local 8 News and VolunteerTV.com for the latest.


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  • by Brandon Location: Sterne on Dec 10, 2011 at 04:34 PM
    Please sign this petition for my cousin (Channon) and her boyfriend (Chris). http://www.change.org/petitions/govenor-of-tennessee-stop-the-retrial-for-murderers-of-channon-christian-and-chris-newsom
  • by Greg Location: Knoxville on Oct 13, 2011 at 11:28 PM
    Ironically it is the law makers that have come down hard on illegal prescription drugs that put the judge in this position. Ultimately it is the doctors who are to blame. There are so many people that are in cronic pain that are not getting the proper treatment from their doctors because they over prescribed and under monitored their patients. Then when the patient is addicted, they cut the prescription off and then no longer treat the pain. The patient is then addicted and in pain! Anyone who has had longterm cronic pain will tell you that they will do almost anything for relief. Now, due to the over prescribed abuse, the law has had to stiffen the penalties. Wow! What vicious circle!
  • by Matthew Location: Friendsville,TN on Oct 13, 2011 at 11:15 PM
    No reason for the Christian/Newsomb murderers to get another chance over the judges issues! The judge only oversaw and sentenced them, the jury convicted them. If any re-anything maybe they get re-sentenced by a judge who believes in capitol punishment! They don't deserve to be alive much less out of prison long enough to travel back to Knoxville for a few days. Maybe justice will really be served and they all get killed on way here.
  • by Kim Location: Knoxville on Oct 13, 2011 at 05:32 PM
    Now we need to get rid of the probation officers that are growing pot in their basements.

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