News 4 Investigates: Who could be the next Circuit Attorney?

There are still a massive caseload and the question of what happens between now and Gardner's last day, June 1.
Published: May. 6, 2023 at 12:46 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - It has been a little more than 24 hours since Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner resigned from office.

But there are still a massive caseload and the question of what happens between now and her last day, June 1.

News 4 Investigates has spoken with dozens of sources about who could be the next person to lead the office, with so many people having a big interest in who will lead the critically important office into the future.

A spokesperson for Mike Parson says there is not yet a short list, and no decision has yet been made.

“I think he’s going to take his time and make the right decision, the single thing he’s going to think about is that crime is out of control,” said Gregg Keller, a Republican political consultant.

Keller says Governor Mike Parson is fully aware of staffing shortages and other challenges facing criminal justice.

“I think his number one priority will be someone who actually prosecutes criminals for a change, I think that will be his guiding star,” Keller said.

But political affiliation, he says, will probably not be Governor Parson’s first priority.

“I think you’ll probably see someone who is Democrat, someone from the Black community and someone with hardcore experience as a prosecutor,” Keller said.

News 4 Investigates has put together this list of potential appointees, names floated by prominent people in the community and also by political types.

They are former elected officials, current and former judges, current and former state and federal prosecutors, and even some private practice attorneys. The list is below.

Appointing a judge would mean Parson gets to pick another judicial spot, but some strategists say that’s not necessarily his top concern.

“I don’t think he’s really looking for a ‘two-fer’ here I think he’s more looking for the right person for the job, is the read I am getting from people close to him,” said Jeff Smith, a former state senator and a Democrat, speaking to News 4 from Jefferson City.

There are some questions about what a transition would look like in the next few weeks.

Gardner’s representative had initially said she would speak to us today, but that didn’t happen.

The unofficial list of potential appointees whose names have been floated or who have expressed some interest:

  • Thomas Clark, Appeals Court Judge
  • Jack Coatar, former Assistant Circuit Attorney, former St. Louis Alderman
  • George Draper, Supreme Court Judge
  • Patrick Hamacher, former Assistant Circuit Attorney, private practice
  • Sheena Hamilton, St. Louis City Counselor
  • Reginald Harris, former First Assistant United States Attorney, private practice
  • David C. Mason, current St. Louis City Circuit Judge
  • Raphael Morris, private practice attorney, municipal Judge
  • Michael Mullen, former St. Louis Circuit Judge, private practice attorney
  • Michael Noble, current St. Louis City Circuit Judge
  • Steve Roberts, State Senator, former Assistant Circuit Attorney
  • Ashley Walker, Assistant United States Attorney, former Assistant Circuit Attorney
  • Gabe Gore, private practice attorney, former Assistant United States Attorney