Ex-Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner

Ex-Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner

Judge Richard Baumgartner
Judge Richard Baumgartner

In January 2011, shortly after the announcement that Knox County Judge and Drug Court founder Richard Baumgartner was taking a medical leave of absence, officials said he was the subject of a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe. He had presided over many high-profile cases including the Christian-Newsom murders and the trials for Raynella Dossett-Leath and Thomas "Zoo Man" Huskey.

In March 2011, Baumgartner pleaded guilty to official misconduct and resigned from the bench. The TBI probe revealed he was buying prescription pain pills from Chris Gibson, a convicted felon on probation in Baumgartner's court.

Baumgartner was disbarred in October 2011 by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

During a court hearing in December 2011, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood granted motions for new trials in the Christian-Newsom murders, saying the TBI probe found Baumgartner failed to preside properly as the 13th juror in those cases. Judge Blackwood also said the judge's behavior could affect many other cases as well.

The TBI probe also found that Judge Baumgartner began obtaining his drugs by doctor shopping, then started buying them from Gibson and also became involved with Deena Castleman, one of his Drug Court graduates, in a relationship that included sex, pill sharing and paying some of her bills.

As part of his plea deal, Baumgartner received a suspended sentence, two years of judicial diversion and a chance to keep his state pension.

In May 2012, Baumgartner was arrested and charged with seven federal counts of misprision of a felony as a result of the TBI probe.

Baumgartner was found guilty on five of six counts on Nov. 2, 2012. A seventh count was dismissed for lack of evidence. Baumgartner's requested a new trial, but his request was denied.


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