Bill Bans Diversion for Public Officials Committing Crimes

The House unanimously approved and sent to the governor Monday a bill that – if in effect last year — would have prevented former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner from getting “pre-trial diversion” for his crimes.
“We had an instance in Knox County where we had a judge who went out and committed crimes related to his office,” sponsor Rep.. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, told colleagues who questioned the need for SB2566. “He created a whole host of problems.”
The bill, which earlier passed the Senate unanimously under the sponsorship of Republican Sen. Ken Yager of Harriman, declares that any public official convicted of a crime related to his or her duties in office cannot receive pre-trial diversion.
Pre-trial diversion is now available to first-time offenders under some circumstances. In Baumgartner’s case, by receiving diversion on a charge of official misconduct rather than a normal conviction, he was able to receive his state pension.
Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, questioned Haynes at some length on the bill, wondering at one point if it would prevent a state trooper from giving legislators a break on a speeding ticket. Haynes said it would not.

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