KNOXVILLE (AP) — Attorneys for former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner have filed motions, seeking to get federal charges against him thrown out.
The defense motions were filed Monday in U.S. District Court.
Baumgartner earlier pleaded guilty to state charges of official misconduct after it came to light that he was addicted to prescription painkillers, which he was buying from a graduate of a drug court he helped found.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported the new motions are aimed at heading off a scheduled Oct. 23 trial on seven counts that charge that Baumgartner did not report the commission of a felony.
Lincoln Memorial University law professor Richard Gaines told WATE-TV the defense move was smart.
“What they’re saying is essentially that if he was silent about something, that’s not a crime and he never lied to any federal authorities and so there’s no crime that exists,” Gaines said. “And if that’s the case, then the indictment could be dismissed.”
The motions also shed light on a TBI investigation in 2010.
The defense questions whether proper warrants were obtained before agents attached a tracking device to Baumgartner’s car or before taking a photograph of the then-judge’s auto license plate in a non-public area of the City County Building parking garage. The photo was believed to have been compared with one snapped of Baumgartner’s car in the driveway of a felon who was supplying pills.
The major argument is that federal prosecution for crimes already prosecuted in state court is barred unless a “substantial federal interest” has gone “unvindicated.”
The defense is fighting to maintain Baumgartner’s state pension.
“To be sure, should there be a federal conviction, Mr. Baumgartner’s state pension will cease to exist,” the motion states.
The defense argues the loss of Baumgartner’s law license, his removal from the bench and public humiliation serve to deter any future criminal conduct by him.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lewen and Zachary Bolitho will respond to the filings in court.