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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:39 am 
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Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood rejects recusal, saying he's not lost objectivity
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted September 10, 2012 at 11:30 a.m.

KNOXVILLE — A senior judge has put in writing his reasonings for refusing to step aside from handling one of Knoxville's most horrific criminal cases.

In an order made public today, Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood wrote that he has not lost his objectivity — as has been alleged — in serving at the helm of the torture slayings of a Knox County couple.

"The court concludes that a person of ordinary prudence in the court's position, knowing all the facts known to the judge, would not find a reasonable basis for questioning the judge's impartiality," Blackwood wrote.

.... more at link
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/1 ... al-saying/

Judge Blackwoods ruling (PDF) pages)
http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/ ... -that.html

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:06 pm 
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Judge: Christian/Newsom prosecutors simply don't want to lose
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted September 11, 2012 at 4 a.m.

Sour grapes does not a recusal make.

So says Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood in rejecting the efforts of the Knox County District Attorney General's Office to force him off the bench in the cases of three of four defendants in the January 2007 torture slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

In a written order filed Monday following his verbal decision last month not to recuse himself from the cases, Blackwood wrote that prosecutors were merely upset at his decision to grant new trials to the defendants in the wake of revelations that the judge who presided over the original trials — Richard Baumgartner — was himself a criminal.

"The state argues that these defendants received a fair trial, and the verdict should be validated," Blackwood wrote. "The issue is not whether the previous trials were fair."

.......snip......

Blackwood admitted in his order he found Baumgartner's actions "disgusting" but denied that caused him to lose objectivity in the Christian/Newsom case. The state is not challenging his decision in one of the four cases nor have prosecutors sought to recuse him from that fourth case, involving suspect Vanessa Coleman, or the hundreds of other trials he has helmed since Baumgartner stepped down in January 2011, Blackwood noted in his order.

Blackwood is allowing the state to seek an appeal of his refusal to step aside. He also has agreed to take a second look at his new trial orders for brothers Lemaricus Davidson and Letalvis Cobbins, who were linked via DNA evidence to repeated rapes of Christian. However, he is sticking behind his decision to grant defendant George Thomas a new trial. There was no forensic proof tying Thomas to any of the atrocities committed against the couple. Coleman is set to be retried in November.

....more at link
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/1 ... y-dont-to/

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:16 pm 
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So as things stand

Vanessa Coleman - Retrial in November
prosecutors have not sought to recuse Blackwood

George Thomas - Retrial Oct 22, 2012 (I am not sure if this date still stands?)
Blackwood is sticking behind his decision to grant defendant George Thomas a new trial. There was no forensic proof tying Thomas to any of the atrocities committed against the couple.

Lemaricus Davidson Decision on retrial under review
Blackwoopd has agreed to take a second look at his new trial orders for brothers Lemaricus Davidson and Letalvis Cobbins, who were linked via DNA evidence to repeated rapes of Christian.

Letalvis Cobbins Decision on retrial under review
Blackwoopd has agreed to take a second look at his new trial orders for brothers Lemaricus Davidson and Letalvis Cobbins, who were linked via DNA evidence to repeated rapes of Christian.

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:59 am 
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Ex-judge Baumgartner loses another round of motions in federal case
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted September 12, 2012 at 5:30 a.m.

A disgraced former Knox County Criminal Court judge will not get a preview of the playbook of prosecutors seeking to convict him of federal charges he covered up a pill distribution conspiracy, a magistrate judge has ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford Shirley has shot down requests by defense attorneys for ex-judge Richard Baumgartner that Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Lewen and Zachary Bolitho contended were nothing more than ploys to force them to show their strategy at Baumgartner's Oct. 23 trial on seven counts of misprision of a felony.

"The government is under no obligation to provide the defendant a list or designation of evidence that it intends to use at trial," Shirley wrote in his ruling.

...more at link
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/1 ... und-of-in/

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:27 am 
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Wow that's interesting that he can't get a "playbill" of the evidence they have to be used against him.

Brings to my mind for some reason although not really related the fact that the police/feds can lie to you but you can't lie to them. And how in trials in the US the pros gets to go last at closing since they have the burden to prove, but when you think of how we remember according to primacy and recency I have to wonder if it isn't a bad idea.


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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:53 am 
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I take your point.. last thing mentioned more likely to be remembered... but I guess we HOPE that juries go back over everything in their deliberations.

I think the system is good... prosecution go first.. lay charges and defendant answers those charges. The prosecution get one last go at rebuttal after closing arguments.

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:08 pm 
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Yes it makes sense but in a way I wish that they didn't have closing arguments. The jury got the evidence testimony, so let them decide based on what was presented rather than being swayed by the best persuader.


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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:24 pm 
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Yes.. but often a trial is bits and pieces of evidence.... sometimes even shuffled around... testimony delayed while some point of law is argued, for instance.

I think both sides do need a chance to bring it all together, and at least try and put an overview of what their point was. :24

Actually I have gone off the jury system as it is... BIG TIME!

(Inspired by other cases rather than is case specifically)

I see what I presume is representative of the jury pool posting at forums.. and more often than not I see juries on trials get things wrong.

I don't know really ... but I THINK some form of PROFESSIONAL jury pool is needed.

People hired.. and selected for the job... a large pool still and some sort of selection from that.
(Like Military reservists... on call... paid a reasonable wage for time they are actually involved)

Obviously they would all be interviewed and vetted... some standard of intelligence and ability to comprehend locical arguments..... wouldn't that be a refreshing change? :43

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:05 am 
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Agreed

I get scared when I see how fast people accept that someone is guilty even before a trial. And I've heard people say that if someone is charged they must be guilty. And the media slants things big time. And I'm sick and tired of prosecutors who withhold exculpatory evidence, or bring charges to put another notch in their belts. And I cringe over all the labs that have been exposed because of corruption. One lab in TX that was widely used for years was found to have numerous reports that were falsified. Ugh.


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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Fri Sep 14, 2012 9:28 am 
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Agreed back at ya :24

but.......

.....to be fair... the system does not select people at random... LE and probable cause should mean that MOST people charged are the bastards who did it!!

LE (and prosecutors) should only proceed when they think (ahead of verdict) that they have the right guy (guyess).

All the more reason that the "presumption of innocence" should be paramount. It is up to the Prosecution to PROVE thier charge against an individual.

I adopted the character of "Rumpole" without too much thought.. but that character is a lawyer always on the side of DEFENCE.. and I am inclined to think that way. I am as disgusted as the next man with the sort of vile people who appear as "defendants".. but I do want to see a case proved by EVIDENCE.... else the benefit of the doubt applies.

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:53 pm 
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It seems that when they hone in on someone they turn a blind eye for considering it could be someone else. And when they completely disregard evidence or witnesses that doesn't fit their spin it's even more sickening.


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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:35 pm 
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Back on Topic... I am not saying the Jury got it "wrong" in the Christian-Newsom trials..

It was a general point... inspired by several recent cases.

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Thu Sep 27, 2012 5:52 pm 
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State attorney general asking Christian-Newsom judge to step down
2:23 PM, Sep 27, 2012

The state attorney general is stepping in, once again, to ask the courts to remove the judge from the Christian-Newsom cases.

Channon Christian and Chris Newsom were kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered in January 2007. Since then, four defendants have been convicted in their deaths and later granted new trials.

An ongoing court battle has ensued, pitting the prosecutors against the special judge assigned to the case after former Judge Richard Baumgartner was disbarred in disgrace.

Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood has repeatedly said he will not step down from the case, despite multiple requests and appeals. Prosecutors say Blackwood has become too emotionally involved in the case and can no longer serve as an impartial judge.

...more at link
http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.as ... yid=236300

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:34 pm 
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State seeks yet another appeal in Christian/Newsom case
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted September 27, 2012 at 9:08 p.m.

Nine months after a senior judge upended convictions in one of Knoxville's most horrific criminal cases, the legal wrangling over the decision continued Thursday with yet another appeal bid.

In paperwork made public Thursday, the state attorney general's office is asking the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals to hear an appeal of Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's refusal to step aside from handling the cases of three of four defendants in the January 2007 slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23.

...more at link
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/sep/2 ... l-in-case/

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:14 pm 
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Appellate court issues a stay in the Christian/Newsom case
Torture- slayings case scrutinized
By Jamie Satterfield
Posted October 3, 2012 at 4 a.m.

A state appellate court has temporarily put the brakes on the retrials of three of four defendants in one of Knoxville's most horrific criminal cases.

The Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has issued a stay in the proceedings involving alleged ringleader Lemaricus Davidson, his brother, Letalvis Cobbins, and Cobbins' pal, George Thomas, in the January 2007 torture-slayings that claimed the lives of a young Knox County couple.

The stay comes after the state Attorney General's Office filed an appeal of Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood's refusal to step away from the cases.

According to the appellate court order, the judges want to give the trio's defenders time to respond to the appeal, but they are setting a short deadline — an indicator the court expects to entertain the appeal in an expedited fashion.

"The court has reviewed the petition and supporting documents and determined that answers from counsel for the defendants are necessary for the court's consideration of this appeal," the order states.

Attorneys for the defendants must respond by Monday, according to the order.

Blackwood ordered up new trials for all four defendants in the killings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, in the wake of revelations the judge who presided over their trials — former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner — was himself a pill-popping criminal.

District Attorney General Randy Nichols' Office has been fighting the decision since Blackwood rendered it last December in all but the case involving defendant Vanessa Coleman. Baumgartner was captured on videotape in that trial appearing largely incoherent when the jury returned its verdict, and he has since admitted taking Xanax, a prescription sedative, on that day in 2010.

...more at link
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/oct/0 ... -the-case/

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:17 pm 
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So......

Yet again the three retrials are on hold for..
Lemaricus Davidson
Letalvis Cobbins
George Thomas


Vanessa Coleman retrial
is not in dispute.

November 12 for Vanessa Coleman.

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:39 pm 
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Stay of new trials ordered in Channon Christian - Chris Newsom cases as judge recusal battle continues/b]
12:16 PM, Oct 3, 2012

New trials for three defendants in the Chris Newsom and Channon Christian murder cases are on hold while the Court of Criminal Appeals considers a petition to recuse a special judge [Blackwood] from the cases.
...snip....

In a decision filed Sept. 28, the Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay on the cases until further order of the court.

The court also found that a response from the defendants' counsel is necessary for the court's consideration of the appeal. Those responses are due no later than [b]Monday, Oct. 8.


...more at link
http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.as ... yid=237160

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2012 5:40 pm 
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Christian-Newsom retrials on temporary hold while attorneys consider appeal
Posted: Oct 04, 2012 3:32 AM

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Defense attorneys in the Christian-Newsom murder case have until Monday to respond to prosecutors' efforts to have the judge removed from the case.

Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood has refused to recuse himself.

The state's attorney general has filed an appeal, pointing to incidents in which the judge changed his mind about being able to act as the 13th juror and Blackwood's emotional response to ex-judge Richard Baumgartner's TBI file.

The case is on hold while the court considers the recusal appeal.

...more at link
http://www.wate.com/story/19724386/chri ... orary-hold

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 2:08 pm 
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Defendant in Christian-Newsom case requests to keep Judge Blackwood
9:10 PM, Oct 8, 2012

One of the defendants in the Christian-Newsom murder case is filing more paperwork with the state. This time around, the request involves a judge who's under fire.

George Thomas and his attorney say they want to keep Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood on the case. They say the judge is impartial and hasn't done anything wrong.

Blackwood has granted a new trial for George Thomas and other defendants in the case.

Prosecutors have argued Blackwood is too emotionally involved and can no longer fairly preside over the cases. Regardless, Blackwood says he is not stepping down.

...more at link
http://www.wbir.com/news/local/story.as ... yid=237764

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 Post subject: Re: News and Updates
PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2012 4:45 pm 
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Judge Blackwood removed from Christian/Newsom retrials
4:25 PM, Oct 25, 2012

In a major ruling on Thursday, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals has recused Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood from presiding over the retrials in the Christian/Newsom murders.
....snip......

The retrials in three of those cases, Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins, and George Thomas, who were all convicted of first degree murder, were stayed until the legal battle was finished. The fourth, for defendant Vanessa Coleman, who was found guilty of facilitation in Christian's death, is set for next month.

Now, those stays will stay in place until a new judge can be appointed to oversee the cases.

In the ruling, the Court "acknowledges that Senior Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood undertook difficult tasks in presiding over the cases involved in this appeal and the State prosecution of former Judge Richard Baumgartner. We have no doubt that Judge Blackwood
subjectively has made every effort to approach these cases in an unbiased manner. We,however, are required to review the record to determine if Judge Blackwood's impartiality could reasonably be questioned by an objective person."

Reviewing all the records from these cases, the Court concluded that "the combination of actions and comments by Judge Blackwood, as detailed in this opinion, would lead an objective person to reasonably question the impartiality of Judge Blackwood in these three cases."

The ruling goes on to say that is very important that the public "have confidence in the fairness and uprightness of the judges created to serve as dispensers of justice.

The Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court will enter an order appointing a replacement judge to rule upon the thirteenth juror issues in all three of these cases, and determine if Davidson, Cobbins, and Thomas should be granted new trials.

...more at link
http://www.wbir.com/news/article/239462 ... m-retrials

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