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Missouri prosecutors oppose governor's plan to allow attorney general to take on St. Louis homicide cases

The organization represents 115 elected prosecutors across the state
Credit: AP

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys said it believes the governor and attorney general should stay out of how decisions are made by St. Louis prosecutors on homicide cases, and let the people's choice for prosecutor do the charging, according to a statement released by the organization Wednesday.

The statement was in response to Gov. Mike Parson’s announcement Monday that he would be adding a proposal to the special session that would allow Attorney General Eric Schmitt to prosecute homicide cases should St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner refuse to issue them after 90 days and if the police chief asked him to do so.

“Holding true to the position we as an association have held for decades, the 115 independent, locally elected prosecuting attorneys of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys stand united against any proposal to vest any new original or concurrent jurisdiction with the Attorney General,” according to the statement. “The best control is local control.

“Vesting the Attorney General with new original or concurrent jurisdiction erodes the ability of local voters to decide who will seek justice on their behalf should they be victimized by crime.”

RELATED: Missouri Gov. Parson wants to allow attorney general to take on St. Louis murder cases

Parson stood with Schmitt during a press conference at the state’s capital Monday.

Gardner did not attend, and later issued a statement saying she opposed the idea.

Gardner is a Democrat, and won the Aug. 4 primary. Schmitt and Parson are both Republicans. They have criticized Gardner’s handling of several cases, including her decision to charge a Central West End couple with unlawful use of a weapon after they pointed guns at protesters trespassing on private property.

Schmitt also tried to get a similar proposal passed through the legislature that would have given him what’s known as “concurrent jurisdiction,” or the ability to issue charges on homicides and carjackings should Gardner refuse to do so within 60 days. That proposal did not pass, and the statewide prosecutor’s association opposed that idea as well.

Schmitt and Parson insisted the most recent proposal is not politically motivated, but instead, is an offer to bring the might of the Attorney General’s Office to the city where homicides are soaring.

Parson noted Gardner’s office has issued charges against suspects in 31 of the city’s more than 160 homicides so far this year.

But Gardner did not ask for the help, and, if she had, the statewide prosecutor's association stands ready to serve, according to the statement.

“Our prosecutors routinely come to each other’s aid: assisting with cases; sharing resources; and ensuring that all Missourians receive effective prosecution services,” according to the statement.

Missouri’s prosecutors also believe the governor’s proposal “fundamentally changes our system of local, independent prosecutions that has served the citizens of Missouri well since 1875.

"Our system, which for 145 years has provided for independent local prosecutors, should not be abrogated in the rush of a special session."


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