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Disorder in the Court

As Knox County prosecutors gird themselves for a potential onslaught of appeals in convictions they obtained before a disgraced and now disbarred criminal court judge, political fallout at the state level is just beginning.

State lawmakers who chair the House and Senate judiciary committees say the saga of Judge Richard Baumgartner’s ignominious descent into drug addiction, criminality and professional impropriety will almost certainly strengthen calls for sweeping judicial ethics reform in Tennessee.

“Surely the people that worked around him knew that he was on drugs,” said Senate Judiciary Chairwoman Mae Beavers. “So what’s their obligation to report it? We’ve really got to look at our system and what’s going on.”

Added House Judiciary Chairman Eric Watson, “Something’s going to have to be done.”

On Dec. 1, a judge ordered retrials for all four defendants convicted in the kidnapping, rape and torture slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

The 2007 crimes were shocking for their extraordinary violence and sexual brutality. The fact that the defendants were black and the victims white sparked racial tensions in the community. Three men and one woman were tried separately before Judge Baumgartner for their roles in the crimes. One of the men convicted in the case was sentenced to die, and the others received prison terms ranging from 53 years to life without parole. A fourth man was convicted in federal court of aiding one of the perpetrators and sentenced to 22 years.

But retrials were ordered for all the state-court convicted defendants after a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe into Judge Baumgartner’s activities revealed that he had, over the course of several years, been illegally buying and abusing prescription painkillers in his chambers. The investigation revealed Judge Baumgartner was likely under the influence of drugs when he presided over the Christian/Newsom trials, and many other cases.

Baumgartner was one of the founders of the Knox County Drug Court program. First appointed to the bench by Gov. Ned McWherter in 1992, Baumgartner presided over the high-profile murder trials of Thomas Dee “Zoo Man” Huskey and Raynella Dossett Leath.

The state’s legal apparatus for detecting and dealing with unethical judges, the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary, took no action against Judge Baumgartner until after he pleaded guilty on March 10 to one count of “official misconduct,” a Class E felony. As part of the plea agreement offered by Al Schmutzer, Jr., a former Cocke County district attorney who served as a special prosecutor, Baumgartner agreed to resign his post as a Knox County Criminal Court judge.

On March 29, Baumgartner was placed on “interim suspension” by the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary.

That the Court of the Judiciary didn’t catch wind earlier of the ongoing judicial meltdown in Tennessee’s third most populace county is further evidence all is not well in the state court system, suggested Beavers. The Court of the Judiciary is scheduled to “sunset” as of July 1, unless the Tennessee General Assembly passes legislation that says otherwise.

In the event that the COJ is disbanded — an increasingly likely outcome, said Beavers — responsibility for investigating and disciplining judges would revert to the Legislature.

Other lawmakers are taking issue with Baumgartner’s ability to keep his taxpayer-funded pension. In spite of laws passed in the wake of the Tennessee Waltz scandal requiring public officials to forfeit that income in the event of an office-related conviction, because Baumgartner was granted judicial diversion there won’t likely be a conviction entered into the record to trigger the pension revocation — provided he stays out of further trouble for the next two years.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally said he is drafting legislation requiring government officials to surrender their pensions even if granted diversion for a felony charge, an issue Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday is “worthy of discussion.”

McNally is also asking U.S. Attorney William C. Killian to investigate whether there are federal charges that could be brought against Baumgartner — which could also lead to him losing his pension. McNally’s also asking the Tennessee State Comptroller to investigate payments the judge authorized to defense attorneys in the Christian/Newsom murder trials.

News outlets in Knoxville reported last week that anywhere between dozens and thousands of cases that went through Judge Baumgartner’s courtroom in the past several years could be subject to review.

Attorney General Robert Cooper confirmed to TNReport that his office is aiding the Knox County District Attorney’s Office to try to get a handle and read on the magnitude of the legal disaster they’re facing.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported last week that Judge Baumgartner disposed 3,341 cases in the timeframe in which he is suspected to have been “doctor-shopping” and cavorting with known felons, including a drug dealer convicted in his court.

WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported that the Knox County District Attorney General’s Office believes that “less than 40” retrials are likely.

Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood earlier this month ordered the release of 155 pages of TBI interview summaries and transcripts that formed the basis of his decision to order retrials in the Christian/Newsom case.

Those TBI files reveal that many court employees and lawyers, including prosecutors with the District Attorney’s Office and a sitting judge, knew for a long time something was amiss with Judge Baumgartner, but apparently took no steps to have him officially investigated or removed from the bench.

Judge Baumgartner’s administrative assistant, Jennifer Judy, told the TBI it was widely known around the courthouse that Baumgartner was often mentally incapable of presiding over cases.

“Judy stated on some days he was so impaired that his court clerk or the District Attorney’s office would reset matters scheduled for that day,” according to one TBI interview report.

The TBI report further stated:

Judy said sometimes Judge Baumgartner would ‘buck up’ if he thought he was fine and that she had threatened him before that if he went into the courtroom impaired, she was not going in with him and be subjected to the ridicule from others in the court. She stated that she felt that his peers, other lawyers, including the District Attorney’s office, knew what was going on but they did not confront him about his issues because he was ‘the Judge.’

Within the TBI files is also a summary of interviews conducted with Assistant District Attorneys Leland Price and TaKisha Fitzgerald, lead prosecutors in the case against Vanessa Coleman, the female defendant in the Christian/Newsom murders.

Price and Fitzgerald were traveling together back to Knoxville from Nashville after a court proceeding in the spring of 2010 when they observed Judge Baumgartner in a vehicle ahead of them. According to the TBI’s interview with Price:

Price stated that the Judge was weaving all over the road and driving very erratic to the point of almost causing an accident. Price stated they tried to call him on his cell phone but he would not answer. He said they contacted Jennifer Judy who then called [Baumgartner] and asked him to pull over at the next exit. Price said he believed that [Baungartner] did comply with the request, but [Price] and [Assistant DA Fitzgerald] did not stop at the exit.

Fitzgerald’s account of the incident along I-40, which occurred near Cookeville, is consistent with what Price told the TBI. “[Fitzgerald] stated that [Baumgartner] was all over the road and was a danger to other drivers,” according to the TBI report, written by Darren B. DeArmond.

The TBI file indicates Judge Baumgartner later summoned the two Knox County DA’s assistants into his office and admitted they’d witnessed him driving while impaired:

[Price] advised that on Monday, April 12, 2010, [Baumgartner] called him and ADA Fitzgerald into his chambers and discussed the events of the previous Friday. [Baumgartner] told them he was having some back problems and had taken some medication and should not have been driving.

Price also told the TBI that during courtroom preparations for jury selection in the Coleman trial, Judge Baumgartner seemed “not right,” possibly mentally impaired or “under the influence,” according to DeArmond’s report.

“[Price] said the Judge’s speech was slurred and he seemed incoherent at times and was having problems putting sentences together,” wrote DeArmond, who conducted his interview with the prosecutors on Feb. 3.

“Price stated that he was aware of times when trials have been reset in Division I Court when Judge Baumgartner was not fit to be on the bench,” the TBI report states.

Nevertheless, the Coleman case went forward with Judge Baumgartner presiding. Coleman was ultimately convicted of helping facilitate the rape, torture and murder of Channon Christian. In July 2010 she was sentenced to 53 years in prison.

No date has been set for her retrial.

Reached by phone on Tuesday, John Gill, special counsel and chief assistant to Knox County District Attorney Randy Nichols, defended prosecutors’ handling of the Judge Baumgartner affair.

“We were aware that he had some health problems, but not that he was abusing drugs or addicted to drugs at all,” Gill told TNReport.

The TBI began investigating Judge Baumgartner in the fall of 2010, after a Knoxville woman reported to local police that her ex-husband had burglarized her home — and that if law enforcement authorities investigated him they’d find he was dealing drugs to a local judge. The incident was reported to the TBI by Jennifer Welch, also a prosecutor with the Knox County District Attorney’s Office.

Chris Craft, who presides over the Court of the Judiciary, told TNReport that the Judge Baumgartner situation was in no way mishandled by the COJ — and that the case in fact ought to demonstrate how important the COJ is to the justice system in Tennessee.

“As far as what we’re doing, we need to keep doing what we’re doing, and we’re doing a good job,” he said.

Craft said that in the case of Judge Baumgartner, the Court of the Judiciary “did everything they were supposed to do.”

“I can think of absolutely nothing we failed to do in this case,” he said.

When the COJ was made aware of the nature of Judge Baumgartner’s behavior — namely, after Baumgartner accepted the plea bargain last March — it acted, said Craft.

Craft would neither confirm nor deny whether the COJ received any complaints against Baumgartner prior to March 10 because that information would only be made public if the COJ filed charges or issued a public reprimand, which it did not.

Craft noted, though, that he’s heard of no one who has come forward publicly and said they filed a complaint against Baumgartner with the COJ that the COJ failed to investigate.

In a letter dated Dec. 6, Senate Finance Committee Chairman McNally requested the COJ release “copies of any complaints filed against Judge Richard Baumgartner since 2007 related to drug or alcohol abuse.” McNally said Monday he’s yet to receive a response.

Judge Craft added that all lawyers — prosecutors, defense attorneys and other judges alike — have an “absolute duty” under the Tennessee Supreme Court’s Rules of Professional Conduct to report judicial misbehavior or misconduct whenever they suspect or witness it.

“At the Court of the Judiciary, we understand that many attorneys are hesitant to file a written complaint on a judge, so we will take anonymous complaints from attorneys over the phone if we need to in order to get enough information to investigate,” Craft wrote in an email to TNReport. “We can then talk to others who observe the judge and courtroom daily to make sure nothing is happening that is impairing the judge’s performance. There may be an entirely innocent reason the judge is acting differently, such as advancing age, back pain, illness or lack of sleep due to a family illness or other issue, but we still need to know, if it is in fact affecting that judge’s performance.”

Baumgartner could not be reached for comment on this article.

In a story that aired on Knoxville station WBIR-TV back in August, the former judge can be seen addressing members of the Knoxville Metropolitan Drug Commission in a taped video presentation. In it Baumgartner touches on some of the circumstances surrounding his admitted addiction to pain pills.

“I kind of wish that people had been tougher on me and said, ‘What’s going on here?’,” Baumgartner said. “Because I think if more people had done that, I might have gotten the message sooner.”

Andrea Zelinski and Mark Engler contributed to this report.

TNReport.com is a nonprofit news organization supported by generous donors like you. Contributions to TNReport.com are tax deductible!

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Featured Liberty and Justice NewsTracker Tax and Budget

TBI Looks to Lift $3M from Gun-Carry Permit Revenues for Fingerprint Database

Tennessee’s Bureau of Investigation hopes to pull $3 million from handgun permit fees to upgrade the state’s fingerprinting database next year and says otherwise more crimes will go unsolved.

Although that practice is legal under state code, gun rights advocates say it’s unfair that a portion of their user fees fund activities that have little to do with law-abiding gun owners.

“The objective of the government to invest money in fingerprinting is not an activity that can be identified as servicing the permit holder process,” said John Harris, executive director of the Tennessee Firearms Association.

“Our view is they shouldn’t be charging essentially the permit holder for the cost, or even a substantial portion of the cost, for the technology and personnel when it’s a part of law enforcement that needs to be funded by the state’s general budget,” Harris said.

Every time someone buys a $115 Tennessee handgun permit, $15 is channeled to the TBI and held in a fund “for the sole purpose of updating and maintaining its fingerprint criminal history database,” according to state law. TBI has proposed taking a total of $3 million from that fund in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Storage for the state’s Automated Fingerprint Identification System database is now reaching capacity, TBI Director Mark Gwyn told Gov. Bill Haslam during a budget hearing Nov. 4 on Capitol Hill.

“If we don’t have this upgrade, we just will not be able to put any more latent fingerprints in the system, and obviously, if that there were to happen, there would be crimes that would not be solved,” Gwyn said at the hearing.

The agency is proposing a $65.9 million budget, including federal funds, which is 2.6 percent lower than the current year’s.

When asked to reduce the state share of the department’s spending by 5 percent, or $1.7 million, Gwyn said he would eliminate 18 filled agent positions and do away with another six vacant jobs that have been left empty for more than a year. The department now has almost 500 people on staff, including 328 gun- and badge-carrying agents.

In the last year, the department handled 1,818 active cases, contributed to 181 convictions and 247 arrests, according to TBI.

The governor is meeting throughout the month with agency directors to talk about their budget needs and determine where he may be able to cut as much as $400 million in next year’s spending plan to make up for expenses outpacing the state’s revenue growth. The governor is expected to propose a roughly $31 billion budget early next year.

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Press Releases

Criminals, Sex Offenders Could Be Banned from Working In College Dorms

Press Release from Sen. Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville; May 24, 2011:

(NASHVILLE, TN), May 24, 2011 — Legislation aiming to prevent criminals or sex offenders from serving in housing facilities in Tennessee’s colleges and Universities has been approved. The bill, sponsored by Senate Education Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), was passed as the General Assembly wrapped up its 2011 legislative session last week in Nashville.

Passage of the bill comes after a former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Resident Assistant was arrested on multiple felony charges connected to allegations that he burglarized dorm rooms and planted cameras, which residents later discovered and reported to campus police.

The accused Resident Assistant had a lengthy rap sheet and was already on probation after serving time in prison for charges like stalking, burglary, and arson. The University had not performed a background check, but has since changed their policy to include one.

The bill is named after one of the victims Kristen Azevedo, whose mother contacted Senator Gresham regarding legislation to address any future violations.

“These students were under very serious threat of harm,” said Senator Gresham. “This offender had an extensive and alarming history of crimes against women. Although I am pleased that the university system has developed a policy that includes background checks systematically, we need to put this in state law so years from now we do not become lax in ensuring student safety when it involves access to their rooms or apartments. I applaud Kristen and her family for coming forward to push for changes in our law to keep this kind of crime from occurring to any other students in the future.”

The bill requires all persons applying for employment in housing facilities at public colleges and universities to supply a fingerprint sample and submit to a background check by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It requires the applicant to cover the cost of the background check and authorizes the TBI to send the results to the university. Also, the bill prohibits individuals on the state’s, or another state’s, sex offender registry from being employed in a position that would give them access to students’ rooms and apartments at public colleges and universities.

“I am very thankful for all the work done by Senator Gresham to pass this bill,” said Azevedo, who lives in Senator Gresham’s legislative district. “Hopefully, as a result it will never happen to anyone again.”

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Press Releases

Haslam Announces 45-Day Freeze on New Rules and Regulations

Press Release from Gov. Bill Haslam, Jan. 19, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam today announced a 45-day freeze on any new regulations and rules as part of the top to bottom review of state government.

Haslam also announced the formation of four Cabinet working groups on Safety and Security, Jobs and Education, Efficient and Effective Good Government and Services.

“Our goal is to ensure that state government is customer service focused,” Gov. Haslam said. “A thorough review is one way to assist overburdened businesses wrestling with the economic downturn.”

The governor exempted any rules or regulations from the suspension that would pose an imminent threat to public health or safety or are required in order to conform to a court order.

“In our commitment to transparency, it is critical that we weigh the benefits of a rule or regulation to consumers along with the cost of impacting jobs,” he said.

Gov. Haslam asked each commissioner to take immediate steps to identify those rules and regulations that fall within the time frame. The Office of Consulting Services in the Department of Finance and Administration will coordinate the process.

“To attract and retain high quality jobs, Tennessee must maintain a business-friendly environment,” Gov. Haslam said. “State government should do everything it can to create the best possible environment for job growth.”

The Safety and Security working group consists of the following departments and agencies: Safety, Correction, Military, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The Jobs and Education working group consists of the departments of Economic and Community Development, Agriculture, Commerce and Insurance, Financial Institutions, Labor and Workforce Development, Revenue, Tourism and Education.

The Efficient and Effective Government working group is the departments of Finance and Administration, Environment and Conservation, Transportation, Human Resources, Veterans Affairs and General Services.

The Human Support working group consists of Children’s Services, Health, Human Services, Intellectual Disabilities and Mental Health.

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News

Understanding Soldiers the Focus of Mental Health ‘Boot Camp’

With one of the largest military populations in the country, Tennessee is trying to ensure that service men and women coming home from war with mental illnesses are comfortable enough to get themselves treated.

One way to aid that effort, state officials say, is to put their health care professionals into boot camp first.

Last week, Tennessee enrolled state and private health care workers from around the country into a new program called “Operation Immersion,” a three-day event meant to increase understanding of military culture and the treatment of personnel with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

About 80 officials from as far away as Hawaii and Washington, D.C., spent three days and two nights bunking at the Tennessee National Guard Training Center in Smyrna. Meals consisted of packaged food rations known as MREs. Wake up calls were at 0500 hours. And physical training and chores kicked off the day.

“They don’t live the way of life that we’ve grown up in, so by educating them it helps them, basically, help us,” said Maj. Paul Gonzales, a National Guard psychological health expert and speaker at last week’s boot camp.

The attendees spent much of their time listening to professionals from the field who detailed PTSD issues and behavioral problems unique to soldiers. They also taught the health care providers how to create similar programs in their own states.

The sessions were designed for counselors, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses and any other type of civilian practitioner who works with military personnel and wants to immerse themselves into the culture.

Trainers hope to have an impact in Tennessee, which boasts the sixth-largest National Guard in the nation and shares with Kentucky the distinction of housing the third-largest military population in the Army at Fort Campbell. It’s the seventh-largest in the Department of Defense.

More than 50,000 troops from the Volunteer State have served in the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of war, including nearly 20,000 Tennessee National Guard troops.

The number of servicemen and women in the National Guard with mental health illnesses is slightly higher than those in active duty, according Noël Riley-Philpo, a licensed clinical social worker and director of Psychological Health for the Tennessee National Guard.

Guard members live dual lives, she said. They struggle readjusting to civilian life, are unsure whether their jobs will be there when they come back from war or have trouble reconciling the difference between who they are out in the field and their identity at home.

And those who do recognize they have may have a problem still attach a stigma to it, she said, where guardsmen are expected to “suck up, drive on and move forward.”

When members of the military do decide to seek treatment, it’s important that they’re met with health care workers who can understand their perspective, said Maggie Throckmorton, director of Special Projects for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities’ Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services.

“We want to make certain that when behavior and health providers interact with a service member for the first time, that they don’t lose that opportunity to connect for ongoing services simply because they come from an uninformed place,” said Throckmorton, who is also one of the event’s main organizer.

This is the third such boot camp in Tenessee. The first two camps attracted almost 100 participants each, and neither made much of a dent on the department’s budget because they were using existing personnel to organize and host the events, she said.

“We do it as inexpensively as possible,” said Throckmorton.

The program is hosted by a consortium of agencies, including the state Department of Mental Health and Development Disabilities, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Tennessee National Guard and the Tennessee Veterans Task Force.

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Press Releases

TBI Director Gwyn Gets New Term

Press Release from the Office of Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen, July 1, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today reappointed Mark Gwyn as the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Bredesen appointed Gwyn to his first six-year term as the agency’s director in 2004.

“Mark has done an outstanding job leading the TBI during the past six years,” Bredesen said. “He led the effort to achieve national accreditation and has the support of law enforcement officials across the state. He is committed to improving the operation and performance of the Bureau and is dedicated to fighting crime in Tennessee. These skills, and the high level of integrity he brings to this position, make him the right person to lead the agency for another term.”

Gwyn was selected from a field of three finalist candidates submitted by the TBI Director Nominating Commission, a five-member panel consisting of representatives from the judicial and legal communities.

“I’m honored to be reappointed to this position and appreciate Governor Bredesen’s confidence in my ability to continue the mission and the work of the TBI,” Gwyn said. “I’ll continue to work with the men and women of law enforcement across this state and with our federal partners to coordinate our efforts and improve our methods of fighting crime in Tennessee.”

As director, Gwyn oversees 420 TBI employees in the agency’s five major divisions: Criminal Investigation, Drug Investigation, Forensic Services, Information Systems and Administrative Services. The Bureau is headquartered in Nashville and operates seven regional and satellite offices across the state.

Since becoming director, Gwyn has overseen the creation of the Technical Services Unit, placing an emphasis on high tech surveillance methods, computer forensics and battling internet crimes targeting children with the launch of a Cyber Crimes Unit. Under his watch, the state’s Fusion Center was constructed within TBI headquarters housing Homeland Security among other programs such as AMBER Alert and Tennessee’s Sex Offender Registry.

Gwyn has committed the Drug Investigation Division to targeting mid- to high-level drug dealers. He has been an active member of the Governor’s Meth Task Force, which crafted legislation designed to stop methamphetamine production across the state. Currently, Gwyn is instrumental in halting the distribution, sale and abuse of prescription drugs.

Prior to his appointment in 2004, Gwyn served as assistant director in charge of the TBI Forensic Services Division where he oversaw the Bureau’s three nationally accredited crime laboratories and 100 forensic scientists and technicians in Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. Prior to that, Gwyn served as executive officer from 1996 to 2001 where he handled special assignments. From 1988 to 1996, Gwyn served as a special agent and criminal investigator helping coordinate investigations into violent crime, drugs, public corruption and gambling cases. Before joining the TBI, Gwyn served as a patrolman for the McMinnville Police Department.

Gwyn has completed some of the most prestigious law enforcement and leadership training programs in the industry, including the John F. Kennedy School of Government from Harvard University and the FBI Leadership in Counterterrorism Program. He also received extensive terrorism training conducted in Israel by the Israeli National Police while attending the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange. Gwyn sits on the IACP Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Committee as well as the University of Tennessee National Forensic Academy Board. Locally, he is a graduate of Leadership Nashville and serves on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army and Second Harvest Food Bank.

Gwyn, 47, is a McMinnville, Tenn., native who holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University.

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Press Releases

Lt. Gov. Ramsey Appoints 2 To TBI Nominating Commission

Press Release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, March 16, 2010:

(Nashville) – The state Senate has unanimously confirmed Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey’s (R-Blountville) appointments to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Nominating Commission. Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch and Circuit Court Judge John D. Wootten, Jr. were nominated by Lt. Governor Ramsey earlier this year. The commission is tasked with recommending to the Governor the top applicants to lead the TBI.

“The TBI must be on the cutting edge of solving crimes and aiding the effort to punish and lock away criminals in our midst,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “I am confident that Justice Koch and Judge Wootten will maintain the high standards and integrity of the Bureau in their work on the commission.”

Lt. Governor Ramsey has worked extensively with the TBI over the last several years to revolutionize Tennessee’s DNA database. He sponsored the “Johnia Berry Act of 2007″, which required DNA samples to be taken from persons booked for violent felonies. In 2006, he sponsored DNA legislation which added more technicians to help decrease the backlog of DNA samples in Tennessee.

Justice Koch served as Governor Lamar Alexander’s Commissioner of Personnel from 1979 to 1981 and Counsel to Governor Alexander from 1981 to 1984. Justice Koch has been an Instructor in Constitutional Law for the Nashville School of Law since 1997 and taught at the Vanderbilt University School of Law from 1988 to 1995. He was appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander to the Tennessee Court of Appeals in 1984 where he served until June of 2007 when he was elevated to the state Supreme Court.

Judge Wootten is Circuit Judge for the 15th Judicial District, which covers Jackson, Macon, Smith, Trousdale and Wilson counties in Middle Tennessee. He was first elected in 1998 and has also been designated by the Supreme Court to hear a variety of both criminal and civil case outside the 15th District. Prior to being elected, he served the 15th District as Assistant District Attorney General for fourteen years, prosecuting thousands of cases and handling more criminal homicide cases than any attorney in the Upper Cumberland.