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Subpoena issued for St. Louis Circuit Attorney over contracts, spending for outside legal counsel

It's the latest legal development in an ongoing fight over law firms Kim Gardner has hired to defend her and her office in a special prosecutor's investigation

ST. LOUIS — The chief law enforcement officer for the City of St. Louis could soon end up in front of a judge to explain her use of taxpayer dollars on five outside law firms.

It's the latest legal development in just one of the many battles over the way Kim Gardner is defending herself and her office amid a special prosecutor's investigation.

As the 5 On Your Side I-TEAM has previously reported, retired police officer Charles Lane of St. Louis is suing Gardner and the city.

Lane contends that Gardner's contracts with the five firms were entered into illegally and therefore the city should not be allowed to pay invoices tied to them with taxpayer generated revenue.

As part of his suit, the courts have issued a subpoena compelling Gardner to appear and/or to produce documents related to her hiring of the firms and any payments made to them so far.

Gardner's team has already filed a motion to have the subpoena quashed, but Lane's attorneys are challenging that. 

The circuit attorney's office contends it is no refusing to turn over information, but believes Gardner is the wrong subject for the subpoena and her testimony in court is unnecessary.

The Circuit Attorney’s Office gets thousands of requests for records like this each year either in the form of a subpoena or Sunshine request. The subpoena in this case should have been directed to the CAO Custodian of Records, who would actually have the information that is being sought. These types of requests have historically not required the testimony of the Circuit Attorney. We have confidence this matter will be appropriately addressed by the court," spokeswoman said in a statement.

A judge is scheduled to take up the issue during a hearing later this month.

In the meantime, a 15-day temporary restraining order banning the city from paying any bills related to the five firms has been extended another 15 days.

The firms include Shaffer Lombardo Shurin out of Kansas City, Brown Goldstein Levy out of Washington D.C. and Baltimore, Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP out of Washington D.C., SpencerFane out of Jefferson City and Dentons US LLP out of Kansas City.

Before the restraining order was issued, a bill from SpencerFane for $6,325 from July 2018 and a bill from Brown Goldstein Levy for $1,404 from March were already paid by the city.

A May bill for more than $24,000 from Harris Wiltshire and Grannis LLP has been submitted to the city, but not paid yet because of the restraining order.

Gardner has maintained she has the legal authority to enter into contracts for outside counsel.

In recent correspondence to city officials, Gardner argues she wouldn't need legal representation if City Counselor Julian Bush's office would represent her as it has in the past.

The entire issue stems from former FBI agent William Don Tisaby, who Gardner hired last year to help her office investigation former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens for invasion of privacy. 

Police and Greitens' defense team allege Tisaby lied under oath during a recorded deposition. 

Over objections from Gardner, the courts sided with Bush and police who sought a special prosecutor to investigate the matter because they believe Gardner has a conflict of interest.

If charged, Tisaby would only be the second person in city history to be charged with perjury, according to prosecutors.

The city's fiscal board previously approved an $80,000 transfer from Gardner's salaries budget to cover costs associated with legal and professional services.

A second transfer request of more than $244,000 from Gardner's salaries budget to cover legal costs is also believed to be moving forward.

The city has also set aside $250,000 for costs that could be incurred by Gerard "Jerry" Carmody, the special prosecutor.

A grand total is not expected to be known until his investigation concludes.

A special grand jury has been impaneled since January to hear evidence in the Tisaby case..

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