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Almost 12,000 cases dismissed due to failures of St. Louis circuit attorney among new allegations from Missouri attorney general

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed a 121-page amended petition to remove St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from office.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s Office has dismissed more than 9,000 cases, frequently as they were about to go to trial according to Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey's latest filing.

Judges have been “forced” to dismiss more than 2,700 cases because of the prosecution’s failure to provide defendants with discovery and speedy trials, according to the filing.

The few assistant attorneys who remain must endure a “toxic environment” that has driven dedicated attorneys — burdened with unbearable caseloads — to exhaustion and medical emergencies, Bailey said in the filing.

All are among new allegations Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed Tuesday against Gardner in a 121-page amended petition as part of a rare legal maneuver to remove her from office.

Bailey began the quo warranto process as it’s known in February, and has since reviewed more than 30,000 documents and data from the St. Louis City Circuit Court and St. Louis Comptroller’s Office, according to a press release from the Attorney General’s Office.

5 On Your Side Political Analyst Anita Manion said there's a two-fold purpose for compiling the number of cases dismissed.

"The first purpose is to say she is not doing her job. She's falling down on her job. Families aren't getting justice. I think that the other implication there is we have a crime problem and Kim Gardner is not prosecuting and locking up criminals. And I think that that is the narrative that's being put forth with those numbers," Manion said.

However, Manion said it's important to note that we don't know what percentage of her cases those nearly 12,000 are or the underlying facts of each and every case.

"Are those people who maybe had minor infractions? And most people would say, no, they shouldn't be prosecuted or sent to jail. Are those people that she dismissed the case but then re-filed? So ultimately, they were prosecuted. There's a lot we don't know," Manion said.

The document is full of detailed examples with more than 40 exhibits. 

According to one example, the circuit attorney's office asked a shooting victim to not show up for the bench trial of the alleged shooter. Then the circuit attorney's office told the court the victim was not cooperative and the case was dismissed.

But a statement from the victim says, "I was and remain cooperative."

When 5 On Your Side reached out to Gardner's office for comment, a spokeswoman said the updated petition was "being reviewed."

The effort to remove Gardner from power followed a crash in early February in which a Tennessee teen in town for a volleyball tournament lost both of her legs after a man who was supposed to be on house arrest for an armed robbery struck her with his car. The I-Team discovered he had violated the terms of his GPS monitoring boundaries more than 90 times, and Gardner’s office never filed a motion to revoke his bond.

She has since said her office made “oral motions,” to the judge, who refused to revoke the bond. Transcripts from at least two hearing show her prosecutors did not object to keeping the man, Daniel Riley, on GPS monitoring despite the mounting violations. Court documents also show her prosecutors were not ready in July 2022 when Riley was supposed to go to trial for the armed robbery.

Gardner has accused Bailey of using Janae Edmondson’s tragedy as a political move to remove her from office.

In a statement Tuesday, Bailey wrote: 

“This is about protecting the people of the City of St. Louis, restoring the rule of law, and finding justice for victims. We brought this suit to remove a prosecutor who has refused to perform her duties to the people of St. Louis. The evidence is shocking and deeply disturbing, and we remain committed to removing Circuit Attorney Gardner from office.”

Judge John Torbitzky has been appointed to oversee the process. He gave Bailey's office until today to amend its quo warranto petition. The judge gave Gardner 10 days to respond to the new allegations, but on March 27, he extended the deadline to April 11.

Here is a summary of the new allegations:

  • Failed in her duty to review warrant applications, with at least an eight-month backlog.
  • Failed in her duty to properly present many cases to the grand jury, receiving much criticism by the grand jury on many occasions.
  • Engaged in years of costly and wasteful litigation, including suing the City of St. Louis, a case which has been pending for four years.
  • Consented to extraordinary bond reductions, and failed to file motions to revoke bond, involving serious, violent crimes.
  • Caused turnover of ACAs in record number.
  • Caused ACAs to commit discovery abuses, resulting in sanctions by the court.

Torbitzky has said he will not rule on any other pending motions or requests until Gardner enters her response to the new allegations by March 31.

Bailey's lawsuit against Gardner, filed on Feb. 23 in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court, seeks to remove her from her elected office for "failing to perform her job as the chief law enforcement officer of the City of St. Louis and her knowing failure to protect the people of St. Louis."

Gardner filed three motions: one asking Torbitzky to dismiss Bailey's petition all together, another asking for more time to fulfill Bailey's requests for documents and other information, and a third denying all of the allegations.

Bailey, in a motion filed Wednesday, asked Torbitzky to grant him additional time to present new evidence against Gardner and requested a June trial date. 

In a response, Gardner said Bailey would not have to request changes to the original quo warranto petition if Bailey's office wasn't rushing the process to "take advantage of a tragedy for political gain, while ignoring the will of the voters.”

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