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Missouri Supreme Court rebukes St. Louis prosecutor

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday reprimanded St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner for mistakes in the 2018 prosecution of the then governor. Eric Greitens, but accepted a counsel’s decision that suspension of his attorney’s license or disbarment was not warranted.

The brief state high court decision echoed a “joint stipulation” agreement reached in April by Gardner and the Missouri Office of Disciplinary Counsel. In that agreement, Gardner acknowledged that she had not produced any documents and incorrectly argued that all documents had been provided to Greitens’ lawyers in the criminal case that played a central role in the Republican’s decision to resign in June 2018.

The agreement, stating that Gardner’s conduct “was negligent or possibly reckless, but not intentional”, provided for a written reprimand, but it was ultimately up to the Missouri Supreme Court to make a decision. In addition to the reprimand for violating the rules of the conduct profession, the court fined Gardner $750.

Gardner told the Discipline Committee in April that the errors were due to the fast-paced nature of the Greitens case.

Related Video: Missouri Bar Accuses St. Louis DA Kim Gardner of Misconduct

“I am pleased that our state’s highest court and disciplinary board has recognized that the ethical disciplinary process should not be weaponized for political purposes,” Gardner said in a statement Tuesday. “I look forward to continuing the essential work of creating a safer, fairer, and fairer St. Louis.”

Gardner, a 47-year-old Democrat, was first elected in 2016, becoming St. Louis’ first black female circuit attorney. She is one of many progressive female prosecutors elected in recent years with the goal of creating more fairness in the criminal justice system.

Greitens was also elected in 2016. About a year into his term, he admitted to an affair in 2015 with his St. Louis hairdresser. The woman alleged that Greitens took a compromising photo and threatened to use it as blackmail if she spoke about their relationship.

Gardner hired private detective William Tisaby, a former FBI agent, to investigate, which led to Greitens being indicted on one count of invasion of privacy. Greitens claimed he had been the victim of a political witch hunt.

Jury selection had just begun when a judge ruled that Gardner should answer questions under oath from Greitens’ lawyers about her handling of the case, prompting her to drop the charge. She said it put her in an “impossible” position to be a witness in a case she was pursuing.

Meanwhile, Gardner filed a second charge accusing Greitens of falsifying computer data for allegedly leaking to his political fundraiser a list of major donors to a veterans charity he founded, without permission of the charity.

Also under investigation by lawmakers, Greitens resigned in June 2018, and Gardner agreed to drop criminal charges.

The case gained renewed attention when Greitens entered the race for one of Missouri’s U.S. Senate seats. He finished a distant third in the Aug. 2 Republican primary won by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

In 2019, Tisaby was charged with six counts of perjury and one count of tampering with evidence. He pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor tampering with evidence and received a one-year suspended probation.

The case stemmed from Tisaby’s statement that he did not take notes during an interview with the woman when video later showed he did, and his statement that he did not. He had not received notes from the prosecutor’s office before questioning the hairdresser when a document later showed he had.

Lawyers for Greitens cited Gardner’s failure to correct the record of Tisaby’s statements and questioned whether she withheld evidence.

Gardner’s tenure has often been tumultuous.

She says her reforms have made the city safer and the criminal justice system fairer. She expanded a diversion program and stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana possession, helping to significantly reduce prison overcrowding.

But last summer, charges were dropped in three murder cases in one week because prosecutors either failed to show up in court or were unprepared after months of delays, the St. Louis Post reported. dispatch. The newspaper also cited Circuit Court data showing that about a third of felony cases were dismissed, triple the percentage of its predecessor.

In 2018, Gardner placed dozens of officers on a “do-not-list”, barring them from filing complaints. The list was compiled after a national group accused the officers of posting racist and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

In 2020, Gardner filed a lawsuit accusing the city, a police union and others of a coordinated, racist conspiracy to force her to resign. The lawsuit alleged violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was passed to thwart efforts to deny the civil rights of racial minorities. The case was later dismissed.

Greitens’ political future is unclear. His Senate bid was damaged by claims by his ex-wife in a child custody dispute that he was physically abusive. He strongly denied the allegations.

A Missouri judge issued a ruling in the case on Friday but ordered it sealed so the public cannot read it.

The question was whether the courts’ jurisdiction should stay in Missouri or move to Texas, where Sheena Greitens is now a professor of public affairs at the University of Texas. Sheena Greitens asked the court to move the case to the Austin area, in part to spare her children renewed public attention during her ex-husband’s Senate run.

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