St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s turbulent six-year reign as the city’s top prosecutor may finally be coming to an end. On Thursday, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey began legal proceedings to fire the alleged errant prosecutor.
In a statement late Wednesday afternoon, Bailey accused Gardner of neglecting her role as city prosecutor and called on her to “resign or face removal.”
We are giving Kim Gardner until noon tomorrow to resign. If she refuses, she will face immediate removal proceedings in the form of a writ of quo warranto brought by our office.
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) February 23, 2023
Bailey said the Soros-funded prosecutor had until noon on Thursday, Feb. 23, to step down, and if she refused, he’d start the process to remove her from office via a writ of quo warranto. Gardner declined to step down, so Bailey announced on Thursday that he has filed the petition and initiated legal proceedings against Gardner.
“As Attorney General, I want to protect the people of St. Louis, and that includes protecting victims of crime and finding justice for them, Baily said. “Instead of protecting victims, Circuit Attorney Gardner is creating them. My office will do everything in its power to restore order, and eliminate the chaos in St. Louis caused by Kim Gardner’s neglect of her office.”
Instead of protecting victims, Circuit Attorney Gardner is creating them. My office will do everything in its power to restore order, and eliminate the chaos in St. Louis caused by Kim Gardner’s neglect of her office.
— Attorney General Andrew Bailey (@AGAndrewBailey) February 23, 2023
Several members of the Board of Aldermen also asked for Gardner to resign.
BREAKING NEWS: Missouri AG fires Dem attorney Kim Gardner after she refuses to resign over public safety outcryhttps://t.co/ZCgqBMeGDX
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 23, 2023
Baily’s ultimatum came after Daniel Riley, a serial criminal who had violated house arrest 51 times, caused a traffic accident that maimed an out-of-town teenage girl.
This is Daniel Riley, the man accused of causing a crash in downtown St. Louis that severely injured a young volleyball player. #News4Investigates is digging into his background and learning he never should have been driving. More on @KMOV at 6 pic.twitter.com/MMoxEgmGPl
— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) February 21, 2023
Janae Edmondson, 17, was visiting St. Louis with her family in order to participate in a volleyball tournament. The family was walking in downtown St. Louis around 8:40 p.m. last Saturday when a speeding driver failed to yield and collided with another vehicle. That second vehicle struck Edmondson.
One of Edmondson’s legs was severed in the crash and the other severely maimed. Her father’s quick thinking and military training allowed him to save her life, but both of her legs had to be amputated as a result. She remains hospitalized in critical condition..
— Smyrna Bulldogs Volleyball (@smyrnaVB) February 21, 2023
Two other people who were in the vehicle that was struck were also injured.
In July 2022, Riley, 21, was ready to be tried as a suspect of an armed robbery that had happened in 2020, but Gardner’s office was not ready for the trial, so her staff dismissed the charges and refiled them the same day. He was out on bond and under house arrest with an order to wear a GPS monitoring device when the accident happened.
According to court records, Riley violated his GPS monitoring device more than 50 times, including 10 times in just the last month.
Following the crash, Riley was arrested and charged with second-degree assault. In a court appearance on Tuesday, he pleaded not guilty, but remains in custody after a judge denied him bond.
Earlier this week, the Circuit Attorney’s Office (CAO) tried to shift blame for the debacle on the 22nd Circuit Court, claiming the decision to allow him out on bond was the call of the judge on the armed robbery case.
A spokesperson for the CAO said the delay in that case was due to the victim dying ahead of the trial. The judge had planned to move ahead with the trial in July 2022 anyway, and prosecutors said they weren’t ready. The CAO then refiled the robbery charges to pursue the case without the victim, the spokesperson explained.
In response to the CAO’s accusation that it was the judge’s decision to keep Riley out on bond, the 22nd Circuit Court said in a statement that “judges are not notified of GPS violations, that only the attorneys of record are notified.”
The crash is just one of many outrageous scandals and controversies that has rocked the state during Gardner’s tenure as Circuit Attorney.
• Gardner’s office secured a grand jury indictment of then-Missouri Governor Eric Greitens in February 2018, for felony invasion of privacy, but the charges were dropped after Greitens resigned from office. The Missouri’s State Disciplinary Counsel found probable cause that Gardner’s office committed professional misconduct during the prosecution Greitens.
• Gardner in December of 2019 was caught lying about a routine traffic stop, accusing the police of trying to intimidate her. She was stopped in St. Louis on Dec. 23, 2019 for driving without headlights on at night. The stop lasted only six minutes and surveillance video confirmed that her vehicle did not have its headlights on. Gardner said in multiple interviews that the stop occurred on Christmas eve and police held her for 15 minutes without stating why. Gardner claimed these were “intimidation tactics used by the police to stop reform.” The St. Louis Police said in a statement that an investigator from the CAO had attempted to involve himself into the traffic investigation, which is an illegal act and the investigator could have been arrested for it. Even after the surveillance video came out, the CAO continued to assert Gardner’s false allegations.
• In 2019, Gardner also admitted to repeated campaign finance violations which included using campaign donations to pay for a private apartment.She reached an agreement with the Missouri Ethics Commission to pay a settlement of $6,314 in lieu of a $63,009 fine.
• In January 2020, Gardner filed a civil rights lawsuit against St. Louis City and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department on the basis of the Fourth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and Ku Klux Klan Act of 1865, alleging a racist conspiracy. U.S. District Judge John Andrew Ross dismissed Gardner’s lawsuit on 30 September 2020, writing: “Her 32-page complaint can best be described as a conglomeration of unrelated claims and conclusory statements supported by very few facts, which do not plead any recognizable cause of action.” Moreover, the judge stated: “Gardner presents no specific material facts, circumstantial or otherwise, to show that defendants acted with each other for the purpose of depriving her – or anyone else – of a constitutional right to equal protection. Her complaint is nothing more than a compilation of personal slights – none of which rise to a legal cause of action.”
• In January 2020, Gardner was sued for violating Missouri’s “Sunshine Law” by refusing to make available records involving the Greitens investigations. Christopher McGraugh, the circuit judge in the case, wrote In November 2020, that Gardner’s “conduct in this case has recklessly impeded the judicial process.” The judge said Gardner purposely violated the law and ordered her to produce the records requested within 30 days and fined Gardner’s office $5,000. In April 2022, the Missouri Supreme Court declined to hear Gardner’s appeal.
• In June 2020, 36 people were arrested in St. Louis during two nights of the George Floyd protests for alleged trespassing, burglary, property damage, assault, and theft. Every one of them was immediately released, “two after being issued summons, eight after prosecutors declined to immediately file a charge, and the rest while police apply for charges.”
• That same month, Patricia and Mark McCloskey defended their property by pointed firearms at protesters marching through their private neighborhood. Gardner filed charges against the McCloskey couple on July 20, 2020. Mark was required to pay a $750 fine for fourth-degree assault, and Patricia $2,000 for harassment. Their guns were required to be surrendered and destroyed. In December 2020, a judge disqualified Gardner from prosecuting the case against Mark McCloskey, writing that “the Circuit Attorney’s conduct raises the appearance that she initiated a criminal prosecution for political purposes.” Missouri governor Mike Parson pardoned the couple in August of 2021.
The CAO has also faced heavy criticism for dropping charges numerous cases, including multiple murder charges, and charges against a car bomber who had been charged with arson, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful possession of a weapon, and property damage.
The dismissal rate of cases has reportedly doubled since Gardner took office in 2016.
Gardner’s misconduct has become so egregious, even some Democrats are speaking out against her.
On Wednesday, State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, whose district the crash occurred, said the CAO “needs a 180 turnover.”
“I think there are a lot of folks that support her that have been silent, but this is one of many fumbles of the ball,” he said.
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones said the prosecutor has “lost the trust of the people” and “needs to do some soul-searching” before deciding her next move.
Gardner on Thursday declined to step down.
Missouri AG Bailey held a press conference Thursday to give an update on the matter, stating “I’m here to confirm that my office has filed a petition of quo warranto and initiated legal proceedings to remove her from office that was filed at 12:01 today in the city of St. Louis.”
Baily said that she has displayed “a pattern of continued failure to discharge her moral and legal duties in the office of Circuit Attorney.”
The AG said the quo warranto makes three claims against Gardner: First, that she failed to prosecute cases pending in her jurisdiction; second, that has failed to “confer and inform” victims of court procedure; and, third, she’s neglected to file charges in new cases sent to her by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Bailey said Missouri’s Republican Governor Mike Parson has the authority to replace Gardner if she is ousted.