Timeline leading to conviction of former judge

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A federal jury convicted former judge Richard Baumgartner on five out of six counts for covering up felonies.

Now, he faces hefty fines and time in jail.

For years, Baumgartner presided over hundreds of trials. His good work seemingly overshadowed now by his own addiction.

The questions started in January 2011, when we found out the TBI was investigating him. That same time, Baumgartner suddenly took a medical leave of absence.

Two months later he admitted he was addicted to pain pills and pleaded guilty to official misconduct after the investigation revealed he was buying drugs from a convicted felon.

His punishment was judicial diversion, and no jail time.

But as details of the TBI probe came out, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood threw out the convictions in the high-profile Christian-Newsom trials, saying Baumgartner's off-the-bench crimes affected his behavior.

That triggered dozens of requests for new trials by many others convicted in his court.

In May 2012, the federal government charged him with misprision of a felony. He tried to get those charges dropped, but failed.

That same month, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Baumgartner's behavior behind the bench for three of the four Christian-Newsom trials did not impact the conviction.

Last week, his trial began. After 20 hours of deliberating, the jury found him guilty on five of the six charges.

His sentencing is set for March 27. The United States Attorney's office says Baumgartner could get three years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine.

Baumgartner's attorney released a statement saying they will appeal the conviction.

As for the Christian-Newsom re-trials, three of the four are still up in the air, and the Tennessee Supreme Court appointed Judge Walter Kurtz from Nashville to preside.

The fourth originally convicted, Vanessa Coleman, is still scheduled to have her re-trial start later this month.


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