Lee Davis: An End To The Baumgartner Saga As Jury Convicts Disgraced Judge

Saturday, November 10, 2012 - by Lee Davis
Lee Davis
Lee Davis

A federal jury in Knoxville, Tennessee voted to convict former Knox County criminal court judge Richard Baumgartner, who was charged with lying to cover up a scheme that provided him with painkillers and sex.

The verdict meant that the former judge was found guilty on five counts of misprision of a felony and acquitted of one charge. Prosecutors were successfully able to convince the jury that Baumgartner had lied to cover up a conspiracy involving a defendant from his court supplying him with pills and sex. Baumgartner’s defense conceded he was an addict and adulterer, but unsuccessfully argued that his actions were not a federal crime.

The jury foreperson later spoke about the deliberations and said that jurors were never deadlocked on any of the counts as they debated their verdict, despite a few questions that led some observers to believe they were.

Deliberations lasted nearly 20 hours and many observers wondered what was taking the jury so long. The jury led some to believe they were going to end up deadlocked given a few of the questions they had for the judge. One question asked what they should write on the verdict form if they did not agree. The foreperson said that the question was not asked because of any actual deadlock, but instead asked preemptively, so that she could plan ahead in the event that unanimity was not possible.

The foreperson said that the reason for the delay was the complexity of each count that they had to decide on. For each charge, the jury of 12 people had to come to an agreement on four distinct elements: First there was a drug conspiracy. Second, Baumgartner had full knowledge of it. Third, he failed to report it. Fourth, he then worked to conceal the felony.

Some of the counts were easier for the jury to agree on than others and they ultimately acquitted Baumgartner on Count Two. The foreperson said the reason for that decision was because the crime of misprision deals with lying to federal officials and Count Two involved an incident at St. Mary’s hospital. The jury decided that there were not any federal officials present at the hospital and thus cleared Baumgartner on Count Two.

Read: “Richard Baumgartner Guilty: Jury Convicts Ex-judge In Drug Conspiracy Cover-up,” by The Associated Press, published at HuffingtonPost.com.

(Lee Davis is a Chattanooga attorney who can be reached at lee@davis-hoss.com or at 266-0605.)

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