Kimberly Gardner, the controversial St. Louis circuit Circuit Court attorney, is appealing a judge’s decision to take her off the high-profile case of Mark and Patricia McCloskey. The couple was charged with gun crimes after waving firearms at Black Lives Matter activists who broke into the couple’s gated community in June.
Last week, Gardner appealed the decision of Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II to remove her from the case over the “appearance of impropriety” raised after Gardner sent out fundraising emails that mentioned the McCloskey case. Gardner argued that the judge’s ruling set “an extremely low standard” by which prosecutors could be removed from cases.
“The reference to the incident in relator’s campaign emails amounts to little more than nothing,” Gardner wrote. “If respondent’s order is allowed, it sends a clear message to defendants that an acceptable pretrial strategy is to drum up coverage in the media in order to paint the picture that a prosecutor has an improper interest in a case.”
McCloskey attorney Joel Schwartz filed to have Gardner removed in June after she sent out two fundraising emails, one before and one after charges against the McCloskeys were filed. Clark bumped her off the case in a December 10 order.
“This court does not seek to ‘interfere with the democratic process’ but strongly believes the present ‘circumstances’ justify disqualification,” Clark wrote. “Deference to precedent, acknowledging the will of the voter, and respecting separation of powers are all vital to a representative government, an equitable criminal justice system and the rule of law. Likewise, campaigning without tainting the right to a fair trial is equally compelling and constitutionally sacred.
“After considering the arguments of counsel, the pleadings coupled with the attachments, the applicable case law and the relevant statute, the court finds the emails raise an appearance of impropriety and warrant disqualification. In short, the Circuit Attorney’s conduct raises the appearance that she initiated a criminal prosecution for political purposes. Immediately before and after charging defendant, she solicited campaign donations to advance her personal interests.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice