Jurors selected to hear ex-Judge Richard Baumgartner's trial

Jurors selected to hear ex-Judge Richard Baumgartner's trial

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Richard Baumgartner (right) arrived at the federal courthouse Wednesday with his attorney, Donald Bosch. Richard Baumgartner (right) arrived at the federal courthouse Wednesday with his attorney, Donald Bosch.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A jury was seated late Wednesday to hear the trial of former Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner in U.S. Federal Court.

Baumgartner is set to go on trial Thursday morning when lawyers are scheduled to present their opening arguments. 

Through the second day of the lengthy jury selection process some potential jurors were dismissed because they admitted they would be unable to separate what they have already heard about the case from the facts presented at trial.

The former judge was arrested in May 2012 and charged with seven counts of concealing and not reporting a felony. The charges stem from an alleged attempt to cover up drug buys. He is also accused of trading sexual favors for drugs.

The process to select 12 jurors and two alternates began Tuesday morning with group interviews of 129 potential jurors. 

After a day-and-a-half, the potential jurors who had not already been excused were interviewed individually.

One person was excused after telling about a family member who was connected to the Christian-Newsom murder case, one of the cases Baumgartner had presided over.

The judge and attorneys wanted to determine what the members of the jury pool knew about the case and if they would be able to set that aside in order to give a fair and impartial hearing.

The trial is expected to take six to eight days.

Baumgartner presided over several other high-profile cases as a Knox County judge, including the  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.

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