Friday, September 16, 2011

Judge Baumgartner Update


Judge Richard Baumgartner at Letalvis Cobbins' sentencing.

By David in TN

[N.S.: I apologize to David. He sent me two items this morning, which I got out of order. I previously posted “Bruce Poston’s Biggest Trial,” which he had sent me second, and since that is crucial to this piece, I am re-posting it in the correct order.

We’ve published so much work on the Knoxville Horror case that it’s impossible to simply list a few articles; the easiest thing is to simply google under the name.]

Another defendant in a trial presided over by former Judge Richard Baumgartner is seeking a new trial. The four trials pertaining to the Knoxville Horror Christian-Newsom murders were held in Judge Baumgartner’s court.

Baumgartner was forced to resign after pleading guilty to buying prescription painkillers from a probationer in his court.

Defense attorney Bruce Poston is seeking a new trial for Samson Quince, who was convicted of attempted murder a year ago. Poston was originally appointed by Judge Baumgartner to represent Letalvis Cobbins, who was the first defendant tried for the Christian-Newsom torture-murders. Poston, for reasons never made clear, got himself taken off the case. He was replaced by Scott Green.

[N.S. If memory serves, Poston had missed deadlines for filings, which resulted in his being held in contempt of court. The lawyer known as “the hardest-working man in the defense bar” was stretched too thin, having taken on too many clients going to trial.]


Eric McLean, left; Bruce Poston, right.


Poston is probably the best-known defense attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee. He represented a man who killed his wife’s teenage lover, a case which received more national attention (live trial coverage on In Session and a NBC Dateline episode) than the Knoxville Horror (see David’s sidebar below).

Bruce Poston’s Biggest Trial

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Defense attorney Bruce Poston’s claim to fame was the Eric McLean trial. McLean shot and killed the 18-year old lover of his schoolteacher wife. McLean was found guilty of reckless homicide and received probation, a big victory for the defense.

McLean eventually gained custody of his two sons. His ex-wife Erin was an extremely unsympathetic figure, which led to Poston obtaining a favorable verdict in her former husband’s murder trial.

Poston was still officially the attorney for Cobbins during the McLean trial. Unlike the Knoxville Horror, this was the kind of case the MSM loves to cover.

N.S. I wrote briefly about Poston in my March 28, 2009, VDARE front-pager, “Knoxville Horror Prosecutions Spinning Out of Control?”

Letalvis Cobbins’ case comes first. On November 7 [2008], Judge Baumgartner removed co-counsel, Bruce Poston, due to Poston’s neglect of Cobbins’ defense (particularly Poston’s failure to meet the deadline for filing a motion to suppress Cobbins’ statement to police); scheduled Poston, whom he said he considers a friend, for a contempt hearing; and replaced him as Cobbins’ co-counsel with local attorney Scott Green. (Kim Parton has served from the start as Cobbins’ lead defense counsel.)

“… the judge noted that, like the late [James] Brown, Poston is considered the hardest-working man in the defense bar when it comes to criminal trials but doesn’t devote much time to the more mundane work of filing motions and appeals.” [Attorney accused of failing to devote time to defense, by Jamie Satterfield, Knoxville News-Sentinel, November 8, 2008.]

On February 6, Baumgartner postponed Poston’s contempt hearing until after Cobbins’ trial has concluded. (Poston, by the way, is white.)

David in TN adds: In 2010, I attended 3 days of the Vanessa Coleman trial and the sentencing hearings for Lemaricus Davidson and Coleman. I saw Bruce Poston in the courthouse every day.

I saw him several times with black people in their early 20’s. Some appeared to be clients, others relatives of clients. My impression is they were people charged with drug offenses or so-called petty crime.

Once I came out of Judge Baumgartner’s courtroom and saw three young blacks sitting on a bench. Poston walked up to them and snapped a folder as if to say “Come on, let’s go inside the courtroom.”

Another time Poston was talking to them and I overheard him say, “Probable cause, probable cause.”

What I saw was the typical day’s work for a criminal defense attorney.

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