Judge orders special prosecutor in Greitens invasion of privacy case

In this Wednesday, May 16, 2018, photo, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner poses for a photo in her office in St. Louis. (Credit: AP / Jim Salter)

ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The Jackson County Prosecutor has been appointed as a special prosecutor in the invasion of privacy case against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

The appointment came in an order from Judge Rex Burlison on Monday.

That order came after the St. Louis Circuit Attorney asked the judge to be recused and both sides met with Burlison Monday afternoon. Burlison wrote that any evidence will be reviewed by a party independent of the Circuit Attorney's Office.

Latest court ruling in case against Gov. @EricGreitens. @stlcao requested they be recused from any new potential invasion of privacy charge. Judge granted. @KMOV pic.twitter.com/ncmURcS8oz— Lauren Trager (@LaurenTrager) May 21, 2018

The criminal invasion of privacy case against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was suddenly dismissed last Monday. A spokesperson for Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said Greitens' defense team made a motion to include Gardner as a witness, a motion that Judge Burlison agreed to.

After the case was dismissed, a media spokesperson for the Circuit Attorney's Office initially said there were plans to refile and appoint a special prosecutor, but a statement later released walked that back, saying, "The Circuit Attorney and her team will research the best step forward for this case in light of the court’s ruling. The Circuit Attorney will make a decision to either pursue a special prosecutor or make an appointment of one of her assistants to proceed."

Read: Greitens invasion of privacy case dismissed; Governor calls it 'a great victory'

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker later released the following statement:I was informed today by the Circuit Court in St. Louis, MO., that my office was named as special prosecutor in the Gov. Greitens’ case. I quickly assembled a team of prosecutors and other staff to begin our process to review this matter.

No elected official relishes involvement in such difficult matters as an investigation of criminal wrongdoing by another official, but we also understand our duty.

I directed my staff that we will go about our review of this case as we review any case. It will be thorough and our decisions, as I have stated before, will be made without fear or favor.

We will need to work as quickly as possible. We do not know what the result of the review will be. But let me stress that this review will be based solely on the evidence. Politics, affiliations or other matters beyond the evidence will not play a role.

My office has prosecuted many similar cases and has experienced prosecutors, victim advocates and others who can assist. I will be involved in directing the review. My office will not comment about this case or the review until it has been completed. I ask that everyone respect the privacy of witnesses and victims in this case.

I will not agree to interviews or answer other questions at this time.Susan Ryan, a spokesperson for Gardner's office also released a statement:I’m pleased to announce that the Prosecuting Attorney of Jackson County, Jean Peters Baker has agreed to serve as the special prosecutor in the felony Invasion of Privacy investigation against Governor Eric Greitens. Last week, when I dismissed this case, I was clear that I was interested in a special prosecutor. Today, the court granted my request.

Ms. Baker is an experienced prosecutor who is widely credited with being unafraid of tackling difficult cases. She is respected by both the public and the legal community. Ms. Baker will conduct an independent review of the facts, evidence and law and make an independent decision about whether to refile charges of felony Invasion of Privacy. If she chooses to pursue charges, the case will remain in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court.

I continue to believe in the credibility of this victim. I also believe there is ample probable cause to re-issue this charge against Governor Greitens. I will be sharing the evidence we have collected on the Invasion of Privacy case with Ms. Baker immediately.

I believe the accusations made by Mr. Greitens, his defense team and their political operatives are unfounded, without any merit and politically motived. However, when the role of the prosecutor distracts from any criminal case she is prosecuting, with or without cause, the best course of justice is to transfer the case to a new pursuer of fact.

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