ST. LOUIS — Newly unsealed transcripts from the case against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens show on-the-record conversations from the judge's chambers with defense attorneys and the elected prosecutor Kim Gardner.
Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy for allegedly taking a compromising photo of a former mistress and "transmitting" that photo. Prosecutors never found the alleged photo and Monday dropped the charges with the option to re-file them at a later date.
During public, pretrial hearings the governor's defense team accused Gardner's chief investigator, William Tisaby, of perjury and said Gardner was withholding evidence from them. Gardner hired Tisaby, a former FBI agent, as a special investigator for the governor's case. Her office later distanced itself from Tisaby after alleged inconsistencies in his testimony under oath in pretrial depositions.
At one point during one of the pretrial hearings, Judge Rex Burlison called prosecutors and defense attorneys into his chambers for a conversation that was, until now, kept out of the public eye and under seal.
5 On Your Side has obtained a copy of the transcript of that conversation which was unsealed when prosecutors dropped the charges against the governor.
The transcripts show the unusual scenario of a judge advising a prosecutor of her right to an attorney.
"With the allegations that have been made in open court...I need to advise you that you have the right to have an attorney, to consider the advice of an attorney," Burlison said to Gardner on April 12.
"The allegations that I'm referring to is that in documents and argument it seems that you were in the room when the basis of the defendant's allegations of subornation of perjury were made, and I don't take that as true. What I'm taking that as it's a severe enough allegation that I felt it was incumbent upon me to recess and make sure that there was a record before anything further was said and
that's what I'm doing right now. Do you understand that?" Burlison asked Gardner.
"Yes, I do," she answered.
Burlison has said in open court that Gardner could face sanctions for her handling of the Greitens case. It is unclear what those sanctions could be and by whom they may be issued.
- Greitens' lawyers want to publicly question witnesses
- St. Louis police launching investigation into Greitens case investigator
- State drops invasion of privacy charge against Gov. Greitens, hopes to re-file
- Missouri lawmakers push Greitens probe after charge dropped
- Missouri auditor investigating if taxpayer money used on Greitens' attorneys in possible impeachment
In a transcript of a conversation held in chambers on the day prosecutors dropped the charges against Greitens, attorneys debate before the judge the possibility of the defense team calling Gardner as a witness. They said they planned to call Tisaby to the stand, but he was expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Therefore, defense attorneys wanted to question Gardner about Tisaby's actions during the investigation.
Gardner said the reason she dropped the charges was that the defense team intended to put her on the witness stand.
Saint Louis University law professor John Ammann reviewed the transcripts obtained by 5 On Your side.
"These transcripts show how unique this whole situation was, and how the judge was being very cautious to shield the public and jury pool from information that could have had an effect on the potential jurors," said Ammann.
The unsealed documents can be read in full below.