The Missouri Attorney General’s Office has recently published an extensive 62-page report that delves into the problematic tenure of Kimberly M. Gardner, the former St. Louis Circuit Attorney. Gardner’s time in office has been described as chaotic and non-productive, leading to a decline in the effectiveness of the Circuit Attorney’s Office in St. Louis and an increase in crimes in the city. The comprehensive report outlines how Gardner failed to fulfill her duties as mandated by state law and provides a detailed analysis of her failed policies and their impact on the city’s criminal justice system.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has stated that Gardner resigned as Circuit Attorney when it became clear that the lawsuit to remove her from office was going to be successful. The release of the report is aimed at ensuring that no individual will be able to hold the state hostage again. The report aims to shed light on what went wrong during Gardner’s tenure, how it happened, and what systems need to be put in place to prevent similar situations in the future.
Gardner took office as St. Louis Circuit Attorney in 2017 and was re-elected for a second term in 2020. However, the report highlights that her administration led to a dramatic decrease in the prosecution of criminal cases, leading to a near-collapse in the city’s criminal justice system. The report is the result of an extensive investigation that involved reviewing tens of thousands of documents and interviewing nearly 40 witnesses.
Some of the key findings of the report include the dismissal of 25,000 cases and the failure to prosecute 2,735 cases under Gardner’s tenure. It also uncovered that Gardner’s office paid $351,500 to an unlicensed attorney for legal advice, a misuse of taxpayer funds, and numerous violations of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act. In addition, Gardner’s resignation just before a judge was expected to order the turnover of potentially damaging records and schedule a deposition raised suspicions of an attempt to evade accountability.
The report provides a detailed look at Gardner’s administration, shedding light on numerous instances where her decisions and policies have led to compromised justice and public safety in St. Louis. This includes her refusal to put a repeat offender back in jail even though he had violated the conditions of his bond more than 50 times, before going on to commit a serious offense of hitting and severely injuring a teenage volleyball player. It also highlights instances where Gardner had refused to file charges against individuals involved in violent incidents or drug-related cases, raising concerns about her commitment to her duties as Circuit Attorney.
Overall, the report paints a troubling picture of Gardner’s tenure and its negative impact on the city’s criminal justice system. The findings and analysis provided aim to shed light on the systemic issues that arose during Gardner’s administration and to ensure that measures are put in place to prevent similar situations in the future. It has also raised questions about the future of Gardner’s legal licensure and the accountability she may face in light of the report’s findings.