Political attacks and race against St. Louis MO Kim Gardner

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Diehard Republicans in Missouri have tried to undermine her from the time she ran as a circuit attorney on a criminal justice system reform platform.

Associated Press file photo

Kim Gardner, St. Louis’s top prosecutor, likely avoided harsh punishment by reaching a settlement this week with the Missouri Supreme Court’s chief disciplinary counsel.

But were the misconduct allegations enough to warrant this level of scrutiny of St. Louis’ first black circuit attorney? Barely. We know of a few white prosecutors in Missouri who have mistakenly sent innocent people to jail for decades and their disciplinary records remain spotless.

In recent years, three murder convictions linked to former Jackson County prosecutor Amy McGowan have been overturned or overturned. His law license remains active in Missouri, according to records available online. A disciplinary hearing initiated against McGowan two years ago is still ongoing, according to a Missouri Supreme Court spokesperson.

Gardner, as you will recall, was responsible for the 2018 privacy invasion case against disgraced former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. On Monday, she admitted to failing to disclose evidence — handwritten notes, mostly — to attorneys representing Greitens.

But his actions were never malicious, said the legal minds I spoke with. Absolutely nothing she did affected the underlying conduct under investigation.

Under the terms of the joint stipulation, Gardner will not be suspended, placed on probation or disbarred unless the agreement is rejected by a three-person panel consisting of disciplinary counsel and the Missouri Supreme Court. The panel has 30 days to recommend Gardner’s sentence to the state’s highest court.

If the signed agreement is ignored and Gardner loses her license, she will no longer be able to continue in office. State statutes require elected attorneys to hold active law licenses.

Amid calls for his impeachment, Greitens resigned as governor of Missouri in 2018, as part of a deal to dismiss a computer tampering charge against him, according to the St. Louis district attorney’s office.

William Tisaby, the former FBI agent hired by Gardner to investigate Greitens, pleaded guilty in March to one misdemeanor count of tampering with evidence in connection with the case.

Greitens, now a candidate for the US Senate, of course claimed that the joint stipulation between Gardner and the disciplinary board absolves him of any wrongdoing.

In April 2018, just prior to Greitens’ resignation, the Missouri House released a report containing the allegations of sexual and physical abuse by Greitens. In testimony the GOP-led committee found credible, Greitens’ hairstylist alleged that he forced her to perform oral sex. She also testified that he hit her three times. Greitens claimed an affair with the woman but denied allegations of abuse and blackmail.

Greitens was charged with unstable and dangerous behavior last month, according to an affidavit filed by his ex-wife in a custody dispute in which she also described his behavior as “unbalanced.”

Diehard Republicans in Missouri have tried to undermine Gardner from the time she ran for office as a progressive Democrat committed to reforming the criminal justice system in St. Louis. Last year, her attorney described the misconduct allegations against her as “another attempt by Ms. Gardner’s political enemies — largely from outside St. Louis — to fire Ms. Gardner and thwart systemic reforms.” she stands for,” according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Expedition.

Nonetheless, she stuck to it. St. Louis voters twice elected Gardner as circuit attorney. These residents have the right to decide whether she remains in office, not the vindictive politicians of the State Capitol in Jefferson City.

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Toriano Porter is an opinion writer and member of the editorial board of The Star. He has received national, regional and national recognition for his reporting since joining McClatchy in 2012.


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