Knoxville Horror Judge Baumgartner under Criminal Probe
February 01, 2011, 09:53 PM
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By David in TN

Judge Richard Baumgartner, who presided over the Christian-Newsom Knoxville Horror trials, is under a criminal probe, allegedly about prescription drug abuse. The agency involved is the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Jamie Satterfield, Knox News reporter, states in the above article that,

Baumgartner’s disorientation was readily apparent as the final trial involving suspect Vanessa Coleman wrapped up last May when the judge had trouble deciphering the verdict form. But most legal observers of all four trials and the slew of motions hearings leading up to the trials have praised Baumgartner’s handling of the proceedings and his various rulings.
I was in the courtroom for three days of the Coleman trial and the sentencing hearings for Lemaricus Davidson (here and here) and Coleman. I saw Baumgartner fall asleep once during a defense cross-examination during the Coleman trial. The judge would call for a break quite often. When he did so, Judge Baumgartner would head straight for the smoking area.

My brother is an attorney and years ago sometimes appeared before Baumgartner. In those days, the judge would smoke on the bench during a trial. This was before the no-smoking rules in public places. Judge Baumgartner is around 60 years old, but looks older.

There was supposed to be an appeal hearing on Friday, January 28, for the first defendant convicted in the Knoxville Horror, Letalvis Cobbins. It did not take place. Another judge has been appointed to take Baumgartner’s case load. He will have to study the proceeding before he can preside over the hearings relating to this case.

Some observers speculate that this may affect the verdicts in the Christian-Newsom case.

NS note: It could lead to mistrials being declared in all four state cases!

David in TN responded:

The Knoxville NBC station reported:

"Lawyers 10News spoke with said if Baumgartner were charged or convicted, none of the cases he has presided over would be immediately impacted. To overturn a verdict in any of those cases, attorneys would have to present specific arguments that Baumgartner's conduct impacted the case."
My brother told me that the appellate courts would consider Baumgarnter's rulings on their own merits. The Christian-Newsom verdicts will probably stand.

My own opinion is that state officials prefer these trials to be over with. We should remember that two unidentified male DNA specimens were found on Channon Christian's undergarments. The trials in this case may not be over.