Day after St. Louis prosecutor quits, Missouri attorney general drops case

(The Center Square) – Republican Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey withdrew his case against former St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner on Wednesday.

“Comes now the State of Missouri and voluntarily dismisses the above-captioned case without prejudice,” was the only sentence in the notice of voluntary dismissal document filed with the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court.

After Gardner resigned on Tuesday, Judge Michael Noble dismissed two cases accusing her and one of her attorneys of criminal contempt of court. The contempt charge was filed when Gardner’s office failed to appear for court dates in assault cases before Judge Noble.

Bailey’s office was sent by Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to assist at the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office on Wednesday. Several media outlets reported Parson’s chief legal counsel, Evan Rodriguez, also was assisting Bailey’s office in running the circuit attorney’s office.

Multiple media outlets reported Gardner attempted to secure St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell as her replacement before leaving office. During a press conference on Wednesday, Parson said he communicated with Bell’s office regarding support to resolve the backlog of cases in Gardner’s office.

Bailey filed the lawsuit against Gardner on Feb. 23 after she ignored his demand to resign. Bailey, legislators and elected leaders in St. Louis all intently focused on Gardner after a man out on bond for first-degree robbery and armed criminal action was involved in a serious auto accident. Daniel Riley, a 21-year-old who violated house arrest dozens of times, allegedly sped through downtown on a Saturday afternoon and crashed into a 17-year-old female volleyball player from Tennessee who was in town for a tournament. Surgeons amputated both her legs.

Gardner’s legal team filed several motions to prevent Bailey from deposing city administrators and from obtaining thousands of documents and emails. Judge John Torbitzky, who later removed himself from the case at the request of Gardner’s legal team, set a trial date for September. Judge Torbitzky sits on the appeals court and was appointed to the matter by the Missouri Supreme Court after all the judges in St. Louis’ 22nd Circuit Court removed themselves as they could have been possible witnesses in the case.

Missouri legislators said they talked with Gardner and her legal team by phone on May 3. There were two bills in the legislature that could have affected the Circuit Attorney’s Office. One would have allowed Parson to appoint a special prosecutor and another would have returned the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department under state control. Both eventually died in the Senate.

But Bailey held a press conference later that afternoon and revealed evidence Gardner was taking nursing classes at St. Louis University. Gardner announced her resignation, effective June 1, the next day.

On Monday, Bailey’s office revealed evidence Gardner assisted at a clinic as part of her classes on the same morning of her contempt of court hearing. Gardner announced on Tuesday she was resigning immediately.

“The Circuit Attorney has finally heeded my call to resign after undermining the rule of law for years,” Bailey posted on social media. “Today, we begin the process of restoring public safety to the City of St. Louis.”

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