Viral video case raises questions over backlog at St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office

A woman seen by millions berating, threatening and harassing a South City family now faces charges more than a year after the initial crime took place.
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 10:16 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A woman seen by millions berating, threatening and harassing a South City family now faces charges more than a year after the initial crime took place. The yearlong wait is now calling into question the backlog of cases at the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office.

Judy Kline, 54, was charged Wednesday with three felonies including burglary, property damage and unlawful use of a weapon for the incident on Jan. 5 2022.

St. Louis Police say they arrested the woman after the incident and applied for warrants with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office. But a spokesperson for the CAO says it was placed in the “non urgent” dropbox and their office did not review the case until this week when KMOV reached out following a viral video of the incident.

Less than 24 hours later and the charges were filed.

The victims say they do not feel safe because she’s still not in custody but they feel some relief knowing she will be arrested if she returns to the home on Lisette Avenue.

News4 wanted to know how many other cases are waiting for review. According to St. Louis Police there are 4,195 cases pending application of warrants. Cases just like this family’s case.

The Circuit Attorney’s Office disputes that number, saying the backlog of cases is around 3,000.

No one could answer why there is a discrepancy.

SLU Law Professor Anders Walker says St. Louis isn’t alone in this problem.

“This is a problem all over the country. Cities across the country have huge backlogs due to COVID,” said Walker.

St. Louis County says they have roughly 678 cases pending warrant applications and in St. Charles their number is around 775.

“I think its time for the State to step in an help us out,” said Walker.

That’s what Republicans in Jefferson City is trying to do. House Bill 301, which includes numerous crime measures, would allow Missouri Governor Mike Parson to appoint a special prosecutor in cities struggling with violent crime.

The special prosecutor would be appointed for five years and would handle violent crime. They would be able to hire assistant prosecuting attorneys and support staff and it would be funded with state funds.

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office previously issued this statement on the bill: HB301 is a political gesture based entirely on unfounded premises. The notion that anything presented in the bill will improve our violent crime situation is ridiculous. It defies logic to think the creation of a duplicative department that’s totally devoid of the relationships, institutional knowledge, criminal justice partnerships, and experience required to prosecute these complex cases would do anything to curb crime.

The bill needs another vote in the House before moving on to the Senate.