Criminal Justice

Tenn. County Deluged with Requests for New Trials After Judge's Prescription Drug Issue Is Revealed


A Tennessee judge was so addicted to prescription medication during his last two years on the bench that he was buying drugs and having sex during courtroom breaks, sometimes purchasing medication from those he had sentenced, an investigation has found.

Convictions in one high-profile murder case have already been reversed following a guilty plea last year by former Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner to one count of official misconduct. But now so many other inmates are also seeking reversals of their convictions, based on the judge’s impairment, that the situation could overwhelm Knox County, where Baumgartner heard his cases, the Associated Press reports.

“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,” said Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

The 64-year-old former judge could not be reached for comment, and his lawyer didn’t respond to requests for comment, the AP says.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Defendants Convicted in Torture Slayings Get New Trial Because of Judge’s Pill Addiction”

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