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Dem Judge Buys Drugs from Convicts

• April 4, 2012 4:46 pm

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A now-disgraced pill-popping Democratic Tennessee judge was having sex and buying prescription pills during courtroom breaks, an investigation has found.

The Associated Press reports that Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner was buying pills from some of the same convicts he helped to lock up. Baumgartner also might have been under the influence when he cast a ruling on one of the state’s most infamous murder cases.

The AP reports:

Another judge has already tossed out the convictions from the high-profile murder case and ordered new trials. Other defendants are hoping for a similar outcome, and bids for new trials from the many people convicted in Baumgartner's court could overwhelm the criminal justice system in Knox County, Tennessee's third-largest county with more than 400,000 residents. Baumgartner was one of three judges in the county who heard felony cases.

"We're getting pleadings almost daily now from people in the penitentiary filing habeas corpus saying, `Let me out too.' It's raining over here," said Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

Baumgartner left the bench to seek drug treatment before pleading guilty to misconduct. A special judge handed Baumgartner a sentence that allowed him to wipe the felony conviction off his record if he stayed out of trouble. The sentence also allowed Baumgartner to avoid jail time and keep his pension.

Video via FOX 43.

Published under: Crime Blotter, Tennessee