KNOXVILLE (AP) — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Knoxville calls a disgraced judge’s argument for dismissal of charges “novel,” but asks the court to deny it.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Bolitho’s response to a motion for dismissal of charges filed by attorneys for former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner.
Baumgartner’s admission that he bought prescription painkillers from a woman who graduated from a drug court he helped found ended his judicial career. Baumgartner resigned from the bench and pleaded guilty to a state charge of official misconduct last year after a TBI investigation found he was having sex and buying pills during his courtroom breaks.
However, the plea agreement allowed Baumgartner to walk away with his pension intact and the ability to eventually clear his record if he stays out of trouble. The agreement did not shield him from federal prosecution.
Baumgartner’s actions put several convictions in jeopardy, including those of three people convicted in a kidnapping, followed by the torture killings of a young Knoxville couple in January 2007.
In answering the federal court motion to dismiss, Bolitho wrote that the motion is flawed.
“Defendant’s novel argument for dismissal of the indictment is based entirely on an erroneous and incomplete understanding of the statute and the cases interpreting it,” he wrote. “Accordingly, defendant’s motion to dismiss for failure to allege an offense should be denied.”