Sunday, January 28, 2018

Former Knox Co. Judge Richard Baumgartner Found Dead at Home


Judge Richard Baumgartner
On the bench; date unknown.

 Former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner, 70, died on January 23. He presided over the trials of the defendants in the Christian-Newsom torture-murders covered here at T&T. Those defendants were: Letalvis Cobbins, Lemaricus Davidson, George Thomas and Vanessa Coleman.

Channon Christian, Christopher Newsom

In 2011, Baumgartner came under a criminal probe for obtaining drugs from a probationer in his drug court and was disbarred. Baumgartner was convicted of five counts of misprision of a felony. He served a brief time in prison a year later. This caused two of the four defendants (Thomas & Coleman) to be retried.

Baumgartner led the push to allow cameras in Tennessee courtrooms, his own in particular. He lobbied within the Knox County Superior Court for the Christian-Newsom case. Ironically, this led to his downfall. Baumgartner visited a woman named Deena Castleman when she was in the hospital during the trial of the crime's ringleader, at a time when everybody in Knox County with a computer was watching the live-streaming trial. People at the hospital recognized him.

Knoxville News-Sentinel reporter Jamie Satterfield wrote an excellent account in 2012 of how Baumgartner was able to stay on the Judicial bench titled "Court of Secrecy: How Richard Baumgartner stayed on the bench despite warning signs". The article has been published again.

by David in Tennessee