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Attorney General says St. Louis prosecutor was working on nursing degree during her contempt hearing

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey accuses St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner of working on clinicals during a contempt hearing.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner was participating in clinicals for her pursuit of a nursing degree from St. Louis University’s School of Nursing the day a judge held her and one of her former assistants in indirect criminal contempt for missing a trial and a subsequent hearing on the matter, according to recent filings by the Missouri Attorney General.

Gardner announced her resignation from the office effective June 1. Bailey is seeking to have her removed immediately.

On April 27, the Attorney General’s Office sent an investigator to the Family Health Care Center along Manchester Avenue in St. Louis. He arrived at about 9:55 a.m. and saw Gardner’s car in the parking lot at 9:55 a.m. The clinic opens at 8 a.m., according to the documents.

The investigator saw Gardner exit the clinic and get into the vehicle at about 12:44 p.m., leave the parking lot and drive to the courthouse where her office is located.

READ: 18 people seek governor's appointment to become St. Louis Circuit Attorney

“The timing of Gardner’s absence from her office on that Thursday morning and early afternoon was notable and highly questionable—and not merely because her office was in a general state of disarray at that time,” according to the filing. “On that very day, in State v. Vincent, 2122-CR00600-01, Gardner was supposed to appear in person or by her designee, ‘to show cause why she should not be held in contempt based on an alleged willful failure to appear in Division 22 on April 10, 2023, and April 24, 2023.’

“Instead of appearing personally at the show cause hearing on April 27, 2023, Gardner sent a designee, Eusef (Rob) Huq. Gardner’s counsel, Michael Downey, was also present. 

"Huq informed the court that he had spoken to Gardner ‘within the last few days,’ and he stated that Gardner was aware of the show cause hearing. Aside from telling him to be present, Gardner had not given Huq any ‘guidance or instruction as her designee.’ Huq had virtually no knowledge about the case or the events giving rise to the show cause hearing.”

Judge Michael Noble then called Gardner’s office a “rudderless ship of chaos,” while issuing his ruling from the bench, stating there was enough evidence to schedule a contempt hearing for Gardner and former Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Desilets in indirect criminal contempt.”

“Despite the court’s scathing order, Gardner returned to the clinic the next morning. This time she stayed in her city-owned car for only twenty minutes before leaving."

Bailey's filing said Gardner had greater concern for her clinical work than for addressing the concerns raised with her management of the office.

Bailey's office is working to obtain records of Gardner's degree and coursework. Gardner has filed a motion to block the Attorney General’s access to her school records, stating the Attorney General's request "also constitutes an undue burden and annoyance for Ms. Gardner, including that the Health Center has asked Ms. Gardner to discontinue her clinical hours at the Health Center, again due to a proceeding that everyone (presumably including Mr. Bailey and his counsel) knows will soon be moot."

Bailey responded: "...The records regarding Gardner’s current and ongoing efforts to obtain an advanced nursing degree are highly relevant to the issues in this case, namely, whether Gardner has failed to carry out her duties, including the requirement that she ‘devote [her] entire time and energy to the discharge of [her] official duties[.]’ The Court should deny Gardner’s motion to quash the subpoenas and order the immediate disclosure of the requested records,” the filing read.

Bailey filed a quo warranto petition against Gardner in February to remove her from office and vowed to continue that case until Gardner was out of office.

“While Gardner has announced her intention to resign on June 1, she has not yet resigned; accordingly, these proceedings are not yet moot and may never become moot if Gardner changes her mind and decides not to resign before June 1,” according to the filing.

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