Soros-backed prosecutor Kim Gardner to resign from office
Embattled progressive St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner – who has faced a deluge of criticisms over her handling of criminal cases and cavalier treatment of victims – finally succumbed to growing demands for her resignation on Thursday, stating that she will step down effective June 1, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
A letter submitted by Gardner to Republican Gov. Mike Parson did not address the controversies that have engulfed the Soros-funded prosecutor's tenure but rather said that her decision was made in order to stop the state legislature from passing a measure she believes would take away the bulk of her authority and hinder the right of residents to elect their circuit attorney in the future.
Mounting Pressure Forces Resignation
Though Gardner's troubles finally came to a head this week, she has been the subject of voluminous complaints and accusations about her job performance for quite some time.
As the Washington Examiner notes, Gardner's office reportedly failed to appear for a murder trial earlier this month, prompting Judge Scott Millikan to pursue a finding of contempt against the prosecutor.
Gardner also courted intense scrutiny back in February, when a driver who had repeatedly violated bond conditions without consequences caused a motor vehicle accident which cost a young volleyball star both of her legs, as the Associated Press reported at the time.
Other allegations against Gardner include fostering a “dysfunctional” environment which has resulted in significant staff departures, mishandling evidence, and creating an “exclusion list” of St. Louis police officers she did not trust and whose work she would potentially disregard when making charging decisions, as the Post-Dispatch noted.
Battle with Attorney General
In February, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed a formal quo warranto petition to remove Gardner from her position after she declined widespread calls for her resignation.
Bailey contended that Gardner “has failed to prosecute cases that are pending in her jurisdiction. These are cases she's charged but then allowed to languish and have sat and resulted in eventual dismissal or failure to prosecute.”
The AG further noted that Gardner routinely failed to remain in contact with crime victims to inform them of the status and outcome of their cases and often refused to bring charges on cases brought to her office by law enforcement.
“Prosecutors who fail do to that aren't doing their job,” said the AG. “Thankfully, this rarely happens in the history of the state of Missouri, but at the end of the day, I'm obligated under the statute to hold Kim Gardner responsible for her failure to discharge her legal, moral, and ethical duties.”
“Power Grab” Alleged
In the wake of Bailey's actions, Gardner remained defiant in her refusal to resign, declaring the AG's move a “gross power grab” as well as “an affront to the liberties of all Missourians.
Gardner's filing in response to the quo warranto filing suggested that even if every claim the AG made was true, he would only have established negligent supervision of subordinates on her part, something her attorneys deemed a “mere violation of official duty.”
The prosecutor's dogged determination to remain in office appeared unchanged over the weekend, as the Examiner explained, something which was evidenced by her appearance at a Saturday rally in which she reiterated that she had no intention of stepping down.
“I ain't leaving. I ain't resigning. I ain't doing nothing. You gonna have to remove me,” Gardner said.
Change of Heart
The tide apparently turned for Gardner at some point during the course of the week, however, given her Thursday announcement that she would indeed leave the office to which she had clung so tightly.
While Gardner's imminent departure was lauded by many, as the Post-Dispatch notes, officials within the judicial system are reportedly worried about the chaotic situation she leaves in her wake, with a large number of criminal trials on the docket in the coming weeks that lack prosecutorial staffing.
A statement from circuit court judges in St. Louis said, “We hope St. Louis' next Circuit Attorney is successful in restoring stability to the office and rebuilding its ranks with experienced prosecutors.”
Bailey, for his part, expressed his hope that Gardner would not wait another month to vacate her post, saying, “There is absolutely no reason for the Circuit Attorney to remain in office until June 1. We remain undeterred with our legal quest to forcibly remove her from office. Every day she remains puts the city of St. Louis in more danger.”