Local prosecutor weighs in on who’s accountable in his office as Gardner assigns blame to her employees

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is doubling down on her claim that she shouldn’t be kicked out of office.
Published: Apr. 12, 2023 at 6:33 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is doubling down on her claim that she shouldn’t be kicked out of office, and she’s shifting any alleged misconduct onto her employees.

On Tuesday, Gardner filed her latest response in the court case brought by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey, as he attempts to remove Gardner from office.

Bailey claims Gardner has a pattern of mismanaging her office and mishandling cases. Bailey points to multiple recent cases as examples, including the murder of 18-year-old Carieal Doss. Recent reporting by News 4 Investigates exposed how Levi Henning was charged in the 2020 murder and last month prosecutors dismissed the case for lack of evidence. According to Henning’s defense lawyer, prosecutors sat on evidence for years that pointed to another suspect.

In a 40-page motion, Gardner asks the court to throw out the case, arguing that if the Attorney General’s claims are true, they at most prove negligence, which she says is not enough to unseat an elected prosecutor.

“He alleges negligence: mere violations of duty, mistakes, or thoughtless failures, and even then, mostly by others and not Ms. Gardner,” Gardner’s motion states.

In the motion, Gardner again blames her employees, saying the AG’s allegations point to actions by them and not her.

“He [Bailey] does not accuse Ms. Gardner of any intentional acts of fraud or corruption, just bare unfortunate failures and delays, mostly by subordinates in her office,” the motion said.

When talking about allegations of how specific cases were handled, Gardner’s motion pins any possible missteps on “the assistant circuit attorneys involved – not Ms. Gardner.” That distinction is made in the motion multiple times.

Gardner’s claims raise the question of who is accountable for what happens in her office.

Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood tells News 4 in his office, he answers to what happens.

“There’s no doubt that the buck stops with me as the prosecutor,” Wood said. “This is my organization, I was the one who was elected to lead this office, I remain accountable to the citizens of my county and to the electorate and the people who put me here.”

Wood says in his office, he has to ensure that his employees are following his expectations.

“The role of the prosecuting attorney is to make sure that your policies are being promoted by your employees and that they’re handling those cases in the same manner that you would handle those cases yourself,” Wood said.

As for Gardner’s shifting alleged blame to her employees, Wood said, “I can’t imagine it fosters anything other than a level of toxicity within their own department.”

Gardner has not responded to News 4′s requests for comment.

In the motion, she calls the case an “ill-advised political stunt” as Missouri’s un-elected Attorney General attempts to remove an elected prosecutor.

Last month Gardner spoke about the case to a room packed with more than 100 supporters.

“So this quo warrento whatever -- is talking about is baseless its foolishness, but guess what let’s go let’s go,” Gardner said.

The first hearing in this case is scheduled for Tuesday, April 18.