Kim Gardner, St. Louis' top prosecutor, to resign after months of resistance

Kim Gardner, St. Louis Circuit Attorney, will resign on June 1st.

Kim Gardner, St. Louis' top prosecutor, to resign after months of resistance

Mike Parson is expected to replace her.

Gardner, in an open letter on social media, referred to these efforts. These included the effort of Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, to remove her from her office, and a push by lawmakers to strip her power to prosecute violent crime.

Gardner wrote: "I cannot allow or enable the disenfranchisement outright of the citizens of St Louis nor can I let these outsiders effectively shut down our vital work." If not for these two issues, I would fight relentlessly to keep the position you chose me to hold.

Gardner said that her office has made "tremendous progress in redefining the public safety" by creating prosecutor-led divert programs, reducing misconduct among police officers and creating avenues to reverse wrongful convictions.

Greater St. Louis Inc. said that the resignation was "long overdue" according to a statement made by Greater St. Louis Inc. on Thursday.

Greater St. Louis stated that "her incompetent leadership and her unforgiveable mistakes have made our community safer and criminals more confident," as they have been saying for months. "This combination failed both the residents of the St. Louis metro and the people who elected this woman."

Mayor TIshaura jones released a statement on Thursday that was less critical than the one she issued in February, when she said Gardner should do some "soul searching" before deciding whether or not to stay in office.

Jones stated that "Circuit attorney Gardner made history as the first Black woman in the United States to head the Office." There's no question that she faced more challenges than her predecessors as a result. The Circuit Attorney's Office, a vital partner in public safety, must be managed and staffed effectively to protect constitutional rights and deliver justice.

Jones added, "Nobody wanted to see Circuit Attorney's Office fail. My administration has consistently reached out to the Office and offered assistance." We are hopeful that Governor will work with local officials to appoint someone who reflects values of the communities in St. Louis."

Parson said in a press release that "we understand the seriousness of the situation and take our responsibility to replace him with the greatest seriousness."

In a press release, the judges of the St. Louis Circuit Court stated that they "hoped St. Louis' new Circuit Attorney would be successful in restoring the Office to stability and rebuilding the ranks with experienced prosecutors."

They said that they are "deeply worried about the large number of serious criminal cases due to be tried in the next few weeks without assigned prosecutors."

The judges expressed their hope that the community in St. Louis will come together and offer assistance and support to the new Circuit attorney as soon as possible.

Gardner, who was elected in 2017 and re-elected again in 2020, has long been criticized, particularly for the high rate of staff turnover, and the outcomes of violent crimes that critics deemed to be too lenient.

She faced a backlash after a teenager lost both legs in downtown St. Louis in February. Gardner's critics claimed that the man who police said caused the accident shouldn't be out on bail. Gardner, however, claimed without any evidence, to have asked a court to revoke his bond.

In response to this case, Bailey filed a lawsuit seeking Gardner's removal from office. In her letter, Gardner said that records requests, which were presumably related Bailey's case could not be reasonably fulfilled.

Gardner was also charged with indirect contempt for failing to appear at a trial in a robbery case.

She did not mention this Thursday, but she alluded to the Jefferson City Legislation that would attempt to strip her office of its powers to prosecute violent crime.

She wrote that "an elected prosecutor was our city's only opportunity to have a voice in the criminal justice system of its community," since Missouri's Governor appoints judges for state courts. The proposed bill would take away that right for all of us. If I can prevent that, I will do so, even if it means that I have to consider leaving the office that you elected me.

Gardner, who is a nurse by profession, has not said what she will do when she leaves office. However, reports indicate that she has been attending Saint Louis University to take courses.