Missouri attorney general files ouster of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner after she keeps suspect free to critically injure young athlete

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has faced searing criticism for repeatedly failing to prosecute serious crimes, is now facing ouster proceedings from the state attorney general.


St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, who has faced searing criticism for repeatedly failing to prosecute serious crimes, is now facing ouster proceedings from the state attorney general.

Attorney General Andrew Bailey demanded Gardner’s resignation by noon Thursday after her office allowed a suspected armed robber to violate bail some 40 times before he allegedly drove a car into a teen girl volleyball player over the weekend, causing her to lose both her legs.

“We are giving Kim Gardner until noon tomorrow to resign. If she refuses, she will face immediate removal proceedings in the form of a writ of quo warranto brought by our office,” Bailey tweeted late Wednesday.

Just after noon Thursday, Bailey stepped out of his office to announce that Gardner had declined to resign and that his office had filed the ouster petition with the St. Louis courts at 12:01 p.m. Gardner was said to be planning her own news conference at 2:30 Thursday.

Bailey said his quo warranto petition cites three claims against Gardner — that she:

  1. failed to prosecute pending cases after filing charges, either through dismissal or failure to prosecute
  2. failed to inform victims of their case status (“She has a constitutional, statutory and moral obligation to stay in contact with victims of crime, and has failed to do so.”)
  3. failing to charge new cases referred to her 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 explained. “At the end of the day, this is about the rule of law, and about justice.”

Under law and Missouri Supreme Court rules, Bailey needs only to make his case under a civil burden of proof, generally meaning that something is more likely true than not. He said such cases for removal of public officials are rare, but certainly not unprecedented — citing a case even in St. Louis County of a sheriff removed from office in a similar proceeding.

“I’m a former prosecutor. I’ve worked at a county prosecutor’s office. I wish that we weren’t at this point today. However, justice demands holding Gardner accountable for her failure to discharge her ethical, moral and legal obligations,” he told reporters.

Gardner has 10 days to respond, though Bailey promised to “use every legal mechanism possible to expedite this process. The people of St. Louis deserve clarity, and the criminal justice system and law and order needs to be restored.”

His Wednesday tweet demanding Gardner’s resignation by noon Thursday went unanswered, he said.

“As AG, I want to protect the people of St. Louis, and that includes protecting victims of crime and finding justice for them,” Bailey wrote in his tweet. “Instead of protecting victims, Circuit Attorney Gardner is creating them. My office will do everything in its power to restore order, and eliminate the chaos in St. Louis caused by Kim Gardner’s neglect of her office.”

Gardner answered the charges in her own press conference, surrounded by angry supporters shouting down questions from the media and reassuring her, “We’ve got your back!”

For her part, Gardner repeatedly invoked the victim’s name and the need to hold the responsible party accountable, while saying her office asked a judge for the suspect’s bond to be revoked or further restricted multiple times before Saturday’s tragedy, but was denied. A reporter questioned why there is no written record of those requests; Gardner claimed they were made orally.

She called the attorney general’s filing against her a “political stunt of an unelected individual who wants to use politics to stop the voice of the people in the city of St. Louis. This is nothing more than voter suppression, which we’ve seen on the national level as well as the state of Missouri.”

Gardner didn’t address her office’s failure to prosecute Riley last year. He was on house arrest at the time of Saturday’s crash, pending a long-awaited trial in a 2020 armed robbery – having been released on his own recognizance despite having reportedly violated the terms of his bail over 40 times. His trial was originally scheduled for last summer, but prosecutors admitted in court that they still weren’t ready to proceed.

If the crowd at Gardner’s press conference was loud in supporting her, Bailey’s tweets also received quick and vociferous support from Twitter followers.

“Thank you!  She has been a stain on society for far too long – she should have been removed from office long long ago,” wrote one.

“Thank you!!  I am an STL public safety employee and resident! I support you 100%,” wrote another.

“St. Louis resident here …. getting rid of her would be one of the best things for our city,” wrote yet another.

Police say Daniel Riley, 21, sped through a yield sign and struck another car, pinning 17-year-old Janae Edmondson between vehicles. A multi-sport athlete in town for a volleyball tournament, doctors were forced to amputate both her legs below her waist.

The tragic case is one in a sad line of failed or declined prosecutions under Gardner.

Last March, Gardner’s office bizarrely declined the Metropolitan Police Department’s request to file charges of first-degree robbery, armed criminal action and resisting arrest involving a man who allegedly pointed a gun at officers in their police car.

In September the Missouri Supreme Court reprimanded Gardner for ethical violations in connection with her attempted prosecution of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens. Gardner admitted lying about having withheld evidence from Greitens’ attorney.

Last summer Gardner’s prosecutors repeatedly failed to show up in court, or weren’t prepared after months of delays, leading to dropped murder charges in three different cases.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that roughly one-third of felony cases since Gardner’s 2016 election have been dismissed – triple the felony case dismissal rate of her predecessor.

Perhaps as a consequence, a year ago MoneyGeek ranked St. Louis the No. 1 most dangerous place to live in the United States among 297 cities with populations over 100,000.

All along, Gardner has struck an oddly antagonistic pose toward law enforcement. In 2018 she put dozens of officers on an “exclusion list” barring them from bringing criminal cases to her office, after a Philadelphia-based group merely accused them of “racist” comments on social media.

In 2020, Gardner accused the city, a police union and others of a “racist conspiracy” to force her from office, even filing a lawsuit alleging violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. The case was summarily dismissed.