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Richard Baumgartner, Tennessee judge, was high on pills, had sex in court, investigators say

The scope of the allegations against Judge Baumgartner could undermine countless court cases and threatens to deluge the Knox County legal system.
Richard Baumgartner 2012 4 4Enlarge
Judge Richard Baumgartner is seen in this still image taken from a YouTube video posted by The Knoxville News Sentinel in February, 2010. (YouTube)

Talk about a rocket docket.

A Tennessee judge and alleged prescription drug addict stands accused of having had sex and buying pills during courtroom breaks, sometimes buying them from people he had previously sentenced himself, according to a new report cited by The Associated Press.

Judge Richard Baumgartner, 64, stepped down over a year ago, admitting to a single instance of misconduct, but the scope of the allegations has ballooned to the point that demands for retrials, releases and reviews could overwhelm the justice system in Knox County, Tennessee’s third largest, according to the news agency.

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The AP had reported last month that Baumgartner was under federal investigation. The Knoxville News Sentinel reported last week that Tennessee authorities were prevented from disclosing all of the results of the investigation into Judge Baumgartner.

The AP said the public portions of the file said Judge Baumgartner was an abuser of oxycodone, hydrocodone and generic Xanax and Valium and had sex in chambers with one of his suppliers, a woman named Deena Castleman who is not even half his age and has a history of arrests.

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Based on the investigation, Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood has overturned the convictions of four people held responsible for sexually torturing and murdering two University of Tennessee students and ordered retrials, according to the AP.

"We're getting pleadings almost daily now from people in the penitentiary filing habeas corpus saying, 'Let me out too.' It's raining over here," Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols was quoted as saying.


 

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