AG's opinion supports diversion ban for officials

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper says a state law that makes public officials ineligible for pretrial or judicial diversion for crimes related to their official position or duties is constitutional.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports the opinion was requested by state Rep. Eric Watson, the state House Judiciary Committee Chairman.

Cooper wrote pretrial and judicial diversions are not "fundamental rights" and a state may treat elected or appointed public officials differently than the general public "without running afoul of federal or Tennessee constitutional protections."

The law was passed this year after pretrial diversion was given to former Knox County judge Richard Baumgartner, who was charged with official misconduct related to the purchase of drugs from a probationer in his court.

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Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, http://www.timesfreepress.com


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