St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner likely to face reprimand for Greitens probe

The chief disciplinary counsel for the Missouri Supreme Court has recommended that St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner be reprimanded for alleged misconduct during her prosecution of then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in 2018.

In a 680-page joint agreement between Gardner and Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel, presented Monday at the St. Louis County Courthouse, Gardner acknowledged that she failed to disclose her handwritten notes to a judge and did not correct an investigator who made misstatements under oath.

“In this case, there were some things not done,” Gardner told a three-person panel of the state’s disciplinary arm for attorneys. “I’m hoping my office can get past this.”

Pratzel, who previously found probable cause that Gardner committed professional misconduct during the Greitens prosecution, did not recommend that Gardner be suspended or lose her law license. A reprimand is the lowest form of discipline issued by the Supreme Court of Missouri.

Gardner told a three-member panel that the crux of the case centered on five pages of handwritten notes that she took while interviewing a woman who said she had a relationship with Greitens. Gardner said she mistakenly did not turn those notes over to Greitens’ attorneys.

The panel did not make a decision at Monday’s hearing. The group, made up of Kansas City attorney Keith Cutler, St. Louis attorney Elizabeth McCarter and non-practicing St. Louis lawyer Sheryl Butler, will have 30 days to recommend a disciplinary action to the state Supreme Court.

Both Gardner’s attorney, Michael Downey, and Pratzel said they would not speak with members of the media after Monday’s hearing.

In a statement provided to a reporter, Downey said the agreement spoke for itself.

Gardner “will respectfully wait for the recommendation of the Hearing Panel and, we hope, entry by the Missouri Supreme Court of an order that conforms to the Stipulation.”

Gardner, an advocate for police reform and first Black woman to hold the role, won election to a second term as St. Louis’ prosecutor in 2020. A former Democratic state legislator, she has repeatedly clashed with Republican policymakers in Jefferson City during her tenure as circuit attorney.

The disciplinary case involves Gardner’s handling of the 2018 investigation and prosecution of Greitens, the former Republican governor who faced allegations that in 2015 he took a nude photograph of a woman without her consent in attempt to blackmail her into silence about an affair, coerced her into oral sex and struck her.

Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy. But Gardner dropped the case a day before it was set to go to trial after Greitens’ attorneys accused Gardner and her lead investigator of concealing notes from an interview with Greitens’ alleged victim.

William Tisaby, the former FBI agent who Gardner hired to investigate Greitens, pleaded guilty last month to a misdemeanor count of evidence tampering related to the prosecution.

Gardner dropped the invasion of privacy case against Greitens in order to avoid testifying under oath about the allegations against Tisaby. Weeks later, she dropped an unrelated felony computer tampering case against Greitens as part of a deal that required Greitens to step down from office.

The disciplinary case against Gardner comes as Greitens mounts a political comeback with a campaign for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat. He has faced widespread calls to drop out of the race amid new allegations that he was violent toward his ex-wife and children.

In an sworn statement filed last month, Greitens’ ex-wife Sheena Greitens said in late April 2018 Greitens knocked her down and confiscated her cell phone, wallet and keys so she couldn’t call for help or leave their Innsbrook home.

Greitens, who has refused to drop out and denied the allegations, has heavily promoted news coverage and social media posts about Gardner’s disciplinary hearing.

After Gardner dropped the invasion of privacy case in May of 2018, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker was appointed as a special prosecutor.

Baker found probable cause for a sexual assault charge against Greitens, but opted against filing new charges because insufficient evidence and the passage of time would have made it difficult to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

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