Thousands of retrials possible on former Judge Baumgartner cases

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There’s potential for much more fallout from the downfall of ex-Knox County Judge Richard Baumgartner.

His addiction to pain pills means a number of people convicted in his courtroom will get new trials.

That includes the four defendants in the Christian-Newsom murders. Most recently Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr., learned he’ll get a new trial after being convicted in the death of a toddler.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of guilty pleas accepted in Baumgartner’s courtroom could face re-trial.

“Literally, I could be talking about 1,000 cases. So it is very, very serious, not only in the manpower that it will take, the expense that the taxpayers will have to bear,” said Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols.

For the defendants who entered a guilty plea before the judge, but not a jury, “Guilty pleas are done by a very strict set of questions and answers. The judge does a lot to guarantee someone’s rights. So 44 trials, but there are hundreds maybe even thousands of guilty pleas taken during this time period,” said LMU assistant professor of law Richard L. Gaines.


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