St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner Resigns Amid Controversy and Criticism

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has announced her resignation, effective June 1st, 2023, following pressure from Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, who demanded her step down over two months ago. Gardner gained notoriety for her unsuccessful political prosecution of former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, which resulted in his resignation in 2018. She later withdrew the case, admitting that she did not possess the evidence she had initially claimed. As a result, Gardner faced investigations for misconduct and received a reprimand from the Missouri Supreme Court.

AG Bailey has been scrutinizing the mismanagement of Gardner’s office since his appointment by Republican Governor Mike Parson, after AG Eric Schmitt won the race to replace retiring Senator Roy Blunt in the 2022 midterm elections. In February 2023, AG Bailey filed a quo warranto against Gardner, seeking her removal from office if she refused to resign. He criticized Gardner for prioritizing politics over the protection of victims, citing instances of lack of preparedness in cases, leading to charges being refiled, trials delayed, or cases dismissed altogether.

One incident that drew significant attention occurred in February 2023 when a 17-year-old girl lost both her legs after being struck by a repeat offender who ignored a yield sign and hit multiple pedestrians in a crosswalk. Gardner blamed the judge for denying her request to have the offender jailed. Subsequently, on April 27th, 2023, Judge Michael Noble appointed a special prosecutor to build a case against Gardner for contempt, as she failed to appear for scheduled court dates that her office was handling. Judge Noble referred to Gardner’s office as a “rudderless ship of chaos.”

Following Gardner’s resignation announcement, Governor Parson issued a statement indicating that the state would initiate the process of appointing a replacement for the position of St. Louis Circuit Attorney.