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Home / Featured / Bailey sues for Gardner’s removal from office

Bailey sues for Gardner’s removal from office

Kim Gardner, wearing a face mask, sits with arms crossed at a table in a courtroom

St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner awaits the outcome of Judge David Mason’s ruling in the Lamar Johnson case Feb. 14 in St. Louis City Circuit Court. (Court pool photo by Christian Gooden of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has sued to remove St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from office.

Bailey announced Feb. 22 that he would give Gardner until noon the next day to resign before he filed a writ of quo warranto, which permits an attorney general to remove someone from office if claims that she is negligent in her role prove successful in court. The petition calls for the court to immediately remove Gardner via a preliminary writ in advance of a permanent removal.

“… Respondent’s willful neglect of her official duty or knowingly or willfully failed or refused to prosecute cases has resulted in a substantial drop in the number of criminal cases filed in the 22nd Judicial Circuit,” the petition states.

Bailey claims that Gardner has failed to prosecute pending cases.

“These are cases she charged, but then allowed to languish and have sat and have resulted in eventual dismissals or failure to prosecute,” Bailey said in a Feb. 23 press conference announcing the lawsuit.

Bailey also claims that she has failed to communicate with victims on updates in criminal cases and their disposition as well as charge new cases referred by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

“These three behaviors constitute a continued pattern of failure to discharge her duties in office, and represent neglect under the statutes and warrant removal,” Bailey said.

Bailey’s call for Gardner to resign occurred after a Feb. 18 car collision in downtown St. Louis. Daniel Riley, 21, was speeding when he hit another car and trapped 17-year-old athlete Janae Edmonson between the two cars. She later required amputation for both legs.

Riley had been charged in a January 2020 armed robbery and was out on bond.

Gov. Mike Parson joined Bailey in an earlier press conference in support of the lawsuit on Feb. 23, hours before it was filed.

“Some guy that can walk out on bond 42 different times, there’s a failure in the system,” Gov. Mike Parson. “And we need to first admit there’s a failure there, and we need to figure out how we’re going to change that.”

According to a Feb. 22 statement from Gardner’s office, the prosecutor dismissed the initial case under Judge Bryan L. Hettenbach and refiled the case last July. According to Bailey’s Feb. 22 statement, Riley had violated his pre-trial bond conditions 54 times in the initial case and 50 more times in the re-filed case.

“Judges have the sole authority to determine the bond conditions of a defendant,” Gardner’s office stated. “Bond violations and decisions do not solely rest on the shoulders of prosecutors. In this matter, prosecutors asked on several occasions for higher bonds, and those requests were denied.”

During a press conference later that day, Gardner repeated this.

“My office cannot force a judge to revoke bond for a defendant,” Gardner said.

Bailey said he disagreed with her office’s statement.

“Number one, she’s shifting blame and it’s a red herring,” Bailey said. “But also, there are inconsistencies in what she’s saying and what appears in the docket entries in the cases she’s referencing.”

Gardner said that oral requests to revoke bond would not have been noted in the docket.

“First of all, what we have is an oral motion to revoke bond,” Gardner said. “In this jurisdiction, they are made orally and that is what was done in this case and on numerous occasions.”

Gardner said that her office did what they could.

“We did our job,” Gardner said. “As I said, could we have done more? We could. But did we not do nothing? That is not true.”

The People’s Plan of St. Louis, a coalition of almost 50 St. Louis organizations, issued a statement that the focus on Gardner as most at fault for the crash is misplaced, and that the expanded use of GPS monitoring in St. Louis is a greater concern.

“But because of the growing prevalence of electronic monitoring, it is also increasingly the case that a large number of violation reports—to attorneys and court officials, despite some comments to the contrary—are simply ignored by necessity,” the statement reads.

The last time bail practices drew widespread public concern was after a 2019 mass shooting in a Kansas City bar.

Bailey also noted the quo warranto motion is a rare occurrence.

“These motions have been filed in the past,” Bailey said. “They are rare, and they’re necessarily rare.”

Gardner did not respond to an inquiry about the lawsuit during her press conference and said the focus should be on Edmonson’s healing.

The case is State ex inf. Bailey v. Gardner. A case number wasn’t immediately available.