Prosecutors who left CAO still assigned to more than a dozen cases slated for trial this month, judge demands answers

Judge clears way for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to go to trial
Judge clears way for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to go to trial
Published: May. 3, 2023 at 11:07 AM CDT|Updated: May. 3, 2023 at 11:13 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The Presiding Judge of the circuit court that covers St. Louis City recently sent a letter to Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, saying she has concerns over the number of cases still assigned to prosecutors who no longer work in Gardner’s office.

News 4 obtained a copy of the letter from the courts.

The letter from Judge Elizabeth Hogan was sent Tuesday. In it, she says “the court is concerned that serious pending cases scheduled for a jury trial are still assigned to attorneys who are no longer at the Circuit Attorney’s Office.” The letter lists 37 potential jury trials scheduled for the weeks of May 9 and May 15 and the attorneys assigned to them. Of the 37 potential jury trials on the list, 15 are assigned to prosecutors who no longer work at the office.

At the end of the letter, Hogan asks Gardner’s office for the names of the still-working assistant prosecutors who will be working on the cases instead. She wants the names no later than Thursday at 1:00 p.m.

News 4 Investigates: Judge questions caseloads of prosecutors

A judge recently announced the case by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to remove Gardner will move forward. Bailey contends that Gardner has failed to fulfill her duties as Circuit Attorney.

Record obtained by News 4 show in six months Gardner’s office lost 10 prosecutors, almost a fourth of the lawyers on staff.

Several assistant prosecutors recently left the Circuit Attorney’s Office, including Chris Desilets, who is at the center of a contempt hearing. The contempt case against him and Gardner 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 was 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.

In April three Assistant Circuit Attorneys left the office, they are Alex Polta, Nicholas Lake, and Natalia Ogurkiewicz. In March Chief Trial Assistant Marvin Teer Jr. resigned.

Desilets, Polta, Lake, and Ogurkiewicz are four of the five prosecutors assigned to the violent crimes based on employment records the Circuit Attorney’s Office provided News 4 earlier.

News 4 has asked Gardner’s office for a comment about the letter and has yet to hear back.