(The Center Square) – During the fourth hour of a preliminary hearing on Tuesday, attorney Booker T. Shaw’s description of the status of the St. Louis circuit attorney’s office was in stark contrast to all statements and arguments.
Shaw, a former judge, was hired by the judges of the 22nd Circuit Court in St. Louis to represent them after all recused themselves in Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s suit to remove Democratic St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner from office. All could be potential witnesses as Bailey attempts to prove Gardner is willfully or fraudulently violating her oath of office or neglecting her public duty.
Judge John Torbitzky, an appellate court judge assigned to the case after the recusals, offered Shaw an opportunity to speak.
“I’m here for one reason only,” Shaw told the judge. “It’s something you’ve already alluded to and I’m sure you understand. The practical effects and the uncertainty of the situation we’re in now have placed the judges in an untenable and unsustainable position. Whatever the cause of it, the circuit attorney’s office is now in a state of near total collapse. An expedited resolution of this matter is very important judge. It will benefit the parties, the court, victims, citizens, defendants and all concerned.”
Judge Torbitzky set a trial date of Sept. 25 and stated he would rule on all motions made in the case during the next few weeks.
A statement from the circuit attorney’s office accused the attorney general of “sacrificing safety and the vote of the people to win political points with his base.”
“With this Quo Warranto, the Attorney General of the State of Missouri has launched a full-out attack not only against St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, but against her entire staff,” the office posted on social media. “Laser-focused on removing a twice-elected Black female who represents a majority-minority city, the AG has picked apart every case and every decision her staff makes, taking delight in any mistake he imagines attorneys have made.”
Bailey held a press conference after the hearing and said Gardner blamed the media, police, the General Assembly, the court, her own staff and him for the performance of her office.
“She is responsible for her toxic work environment,” Bailey said. “She is responsible for her refusal to do her job. Her failures are the result of her behavior and this removal proceeding is the result of her decisions and her inaction. Her unlawful refusal to do her job has resulted in violent offenders on the street who continue to make this community and this region less safe and they create additional victims of crime.”