Jury selection begins in ex-Judge Richard Baumgartner's trial

Jury selection begins in ex-Judge Richard Baumgartner's trial

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Richard Baumgartner (left) walks to the federal courthouse in Knoxville with his attorney, Donald Bosch. Richard Baumgartner (left) walks to the federal courthouse in Knoxville with his attorney, Donald Bosch.
Richard Baumgartner (left) failed in an attempt to have the case thrown out. (courtroom drawing by Bobbie Crews) Richard Baumgartner (left) failed in an attempt to have the case thrown out. (courtroom drawing by Bobbie Crews)
The selection process began with 129 potential jurors being interviewed by the judge and attorneys. (courtroom drawing by Bobbie Crews) The selection process began with 129 potential jurors being interviewed by the judge and attorneys. (courtroom drawing by Bobbie Crews)

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Jury selection began Tuesday morning in U.S. Federal Court for the trial of former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner.

The trial stems from his arrest in May 2012 when he was charged with seven counts of concealing and not reporting a felony. He is accused of covering up his attempts to buy and distribute drugs, as well as trade sexual favors for drugs.

Baumgartner failed in an attempt to have the case thrown out, arguing that lying to state officials is not a federal crime because no federal officials were involved.

The selection process began with 129 potential jurors in the courtroom.  32 were called in front of the judge for group and individual questioning. Twelve jurors and two alternates will be selected.

Four potential juror were excused during the morning session, including one who said he would not be able to separate what he already knows about the case from the evidence presented.

In the second half of the day four additional people were excused.  Another could not set aside their prior knowledge and personal opinion of Baumgartner for the trial.

Another potential juror was dismissed after saying their emotion toward substance abuse would be hard to separate for the trial.

The trial is expected to take six to eight days.

During his time on the bench, Baumgartner presided over several high-profile cases, including the Christian-Newsom murders, and trials of Raynella Dossett-Leath and Thomas "Zoo Man" Huskey.
 
After a TBI probe found that Baumgartner obtained drugs first by doctor shopping, then by buying them from known drug dealers and graduates of his drug court, Baumgartner pleaded guilty in March 2011 to official misconduct and resigned from the bench.

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

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