News 4 Investigates: Judge questions caseloads of prosecutors

Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 9:47 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Following a St. Louis Circuit Court judge questioning heavy caseloads of city prosecutors, News 4 Investigates searched court records to get numbers.

The city faces a growing number of violent felony cases and a shrinking number of prosecutors.

News 4 Investigates obtained records from the court showing all open cases for prosecutors working violent crimes, these include shootings and murders. These are the total News 4 obtained from court records, they include totals for employees who resigned yet still show active cases:

Attorney Manager Rob Huq - 736

Assistant Circuit Attorney Adam Field - 112

Assistant Circuit Attorney Christopher Desilets - 104

Assistant Circuit Attorney Alexander Polta - 78

Assistant Circuit Attorney Srikant Chigurupati - 71

Former Assistant Circuit Attorney Nicholas Lake - 80

Former Assistant Circuit Attorney Natalia Ogurkiewicz - 105

Former Chief Trial Assistant Marvin Teer - 66

Topping the list is Attorney Manager Rob Huq who court records show has 736 assigned cases. Of those 397 and 301 are misdemeanors.

Following him is Adam Field, court records show he has 112 assigned cases.

Based on a list of employee job the Circuit Attorney’s Office provided News 4 earlier this year. Huq and Field were not assigned to the violent crimes which is the division that handles cases including shootings and murders. Court records show Huq and Field have recently been assigned more violent cases.

Huq told the court his so high total is in part because cases are initially given to him as a standard office procedure.

“Many of them were not intended to remain with me but instead would be transferred to other ACA’s [Assistant Circuit Attorney’s],” Huq explained.

Christopher Desilets has 104 cases based on records the courts provided to News 4 Investigates. Desilets is the assistant who along with his boss Kim Gardner, is facing being held in contempt of court. If found in contempt they could have to pay a fine, do jail time, or both.

Their contempt case stems from the October 2020 shooting involving 28-year-old Steven Vincent Jr. Vincent is accused of shooting into a north city apartment, hitting an 11-year-old girl. Desilets is the assigned prosecutor. According to the court, prosecutors failed to appear for trial on April 10, 2023, and prosecutors failed to appear for another hearing weeks later.

During Thursday’s contempt hearing Judge Michael Noble cited Desilets’ workload as a reason he thinks there’s enough evidence to prove contempt.

“Any prudent practitioner would expect such a caseload to create countless irreconcilable conflicts, it does not appear she has made any reasonable efforts to prevent the resulting chaos,” Noble said.

Records News 4 Investigates obtained from the courts also show cases assigned to three prosecutors who no longer work for the city.

Court records show open cases for Former Assistant Circuit Attorney Nicholas Lake, Former Assistant Circuit Attorney Natalia Ogurkiewicz, and Former Chief Trial Assistant Marvin Teer. News 4 Investigates checked public court records and found some of their cases have been reassigned, while others don’t show a new prosecutor in the public listing.

“Ms. Gardner is the Circuit Attorney and it is her job to manage the caseload of each staff member,” Judge Noble said.

News 4 has spoken with multiple families for both people facing trial and those who are victims of crimes. They say they feel stuck in the middle.

News 4 received a statement from the CAO that says:

“The Circuit Attorney’s Office is taking the necessary measures to ensure justice is served in all cases including working with the courts to make sure the proper contingencies are in place. The office can’t speak on personnel matters. This is temporary, and the CAO continues to aggressively recruit and hire attorneys and support staff to serve the people of the city of St. Louis.”

News 4 continues to ask Gardner for an interview. News 4′s public record requests to the Circuit Attorney’s Office for a current list of employees and job titles have not been fulfilled.