Former Judge Richard Baumgartner fires back in federal case

8:24 PM, Aug 7, 2012   |    comments
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Former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner's attorneys argue that there are no grounds for a federal case against their client.  They filed 11 motions late Monday night asking a judge to drop all charges against the former disgraced judge and to suppress some evidence federal agents gathered during their lengthy investigation.

In May, a federal grand jury in Knoxville returned a seven-count indictment against Baumgartner, charging him with misprision of a felony.

Prosecutors said Baumgarter worked to conceal the felonies of a graduate from Baumgartner's drug court, with whom a TBI investigation revealed the judge had a sexual relationship and who had supplied Baumgartner with prescription drugs.

Four of the motions filed by Baumgartner's attorney, Don Bosch,  argue that there should be no federal case because Baumgartner is not accused of making untrue statements to any federal officials.  Prosecutors rather point to allegedly untrue statements Baumgartner made to state officials and private citizens.

Baumgartner pleaded guilty to official misconduct in state court in March 2011 and received judicial diversion.

Months later, much of the TBI's investigation was made public detailing illegal activities including addiction to painkillers, illegal drug deals, and abuse of drugs while on the bench.

Baumgartner's plea deal meant the state could not charge him.

Another motion reads that the charges against Baumgartner violate his Tenth Amendment rights.  His attorneys argue that as a state judge, Baumgartner was also a state official; requiring Baumgartner to enforce federal laws would go against the powers he had as a state judge.

Baumgartner's attorneys also ask the judge to require prosecutors to give them specific information about the alleged false statements Baumgartner made to state officials and private citizens, and how those statements concealed the alleged felonies Castleman committed.

The defense also asks for prosecutors to turn over character evidence they plan to use against Baumgartner one month, instead of one week, before trial.  The motion reads that there could be disagreements between both sides as to what evidence should be admissible in court since there are many "rumors" and false information floating around.

Finally, Baumgartner's attorneys want the judge to suppress some evidence, including Baumgartner's medical records.  A motion alleges the TBI did not indicate in subpoenas why they wanted the records, and that a judge did not approve the subpoenas.

Separate motions are also asking to keep data gathered from a GPS tracking device that federal agents put on Baumgartner's car in September 2010, and a photograph agents took of the car while it was parked in the City County Building parking garage, out of court.  The defense alleges federal agents obtained both without the proper warrants.

The motion to suppress the GPS data indicates that prosecutors have said they do not plan to introduce that evidence at trial.  The defense writes that they want it suppressed anyway in case the prosecution changes their minds and wants to introduce it as a rebuttal. 

The motion to suppress the photograph of Baumgartner's car indicates the prosecution does plan to introduce it at trial.  Baumgartner's attorneys allege there are signs posted at the garage that indicate it is a private space; the general public is not allowed access.  Therefore, they contend that Baumgartner had a "reasonable expectation of privacy."

The defense requests evidentiary hearings for the medical records, GPS data, and photograph.

10News spoke with Knoxville defense attorney, Dennis Francis, who is not representing Baumgartner, on Tuesday for some perspective about these motions. Baumgartner's attorneys use phrases in the motions, such as "prosecutorial abuse." Francis said those indicate Baumgartner's legal team is gearing up for a fight.

"This is not something that's warm and fuzzy and friendly. This is a lawsuit. Anytime your client's liberty is at stake, as Don's client is, you know, due diligence. It certainly looks like he has complied with his requirement for due diligence in preparation of this trial," said Francis.

Prosecutors have until August 20, 2012 to submit responses to the defense's motions.  A motions hearing is set for a week later on August 27th.  All of this leads up to Baumgartner's trial, which is set to begin on October 23rd, 2012.

Several criminal cases face potential retrials because of Baumgartner's misconduct, including the high-profile carjacking and murders of Channon Christian and Chris Newsom.


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