ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – A St. Louis judge slammed the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office Tuesday for “standing in the way of a Grand Jury investigation.”
Judge Michael Mullen is presiding over a grand jury investigation that involves the prosecutor’s office.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion Monday challenging the validity of a search warrant the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department obtained to search the Circuit Attorney’s Office’s files for the case.
According to a statement from Gardner, the warrant would give the SLMPD access to any file on the CAO servers with any mention of more than two dozen search terms, including “notes,” “evidence,” and “tape.”
In court on Tuesday, the Judge Mullen chided the Circuit Attorney’s Office for alerting the media to the search warrant and for criticizing the search warrant, which Mullen originally signed. “It’s amazing to me that the Circuit Attorney is fighting this,” Judge Mullen said.
Rachel Smith, Chief Trial Assistant for the Circuit Attorney’s Office, denied that the office was trying to impede the investigation and said they were cooperating with it.
A special prosecutor is conducting an investigation regarding William Tisaby, a special investigator hired by the Circuit Attorney’s Office in the case against former governor Eric Greitens.
The courts, including the Missouri Supreme Court, ruled that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner had a conflict of interest in the case.
Greitens was charged with two felonies. Both were later dismissed.
Greitens' team of attorneys claimed Tisaby, hired by Gardner to work the case, lied under oath.
Moreover, they claimed Gardner suborned perjury or directed Tisaby to lie.
At issue: A critical interview from early in the first criminal case. Gardner's office first claimed a video of that interview malfunctioned, but later turned it over to Greitens' defense team.
In their motion, the Circuit Attorney’s Office argues the recent search warrant is unconstitutional, because it’s too broad.
“The warrant is a thinly-veiled attempt to circumvent the law and the people of St. Louis in retribution for my efforts to hold the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department accountable and reform our criminal justice system,” said Gardner in a statement. “I am asking the Court to protect the information of thousands of St. Louis citizens from this clear fishing expedition. I will not allow shameful overreach to jeopardize the public’s interest and safety.”
Additionally, Gardner argues the warrant would expose personal information of St. Louis citizens.
Tuesday, Judge Mullen questioned why the Circuit Attorney’s Office needed three additional private lawyers to be present in court for a hearing on the matter. Each lives outside of the St. Louis area.
The judge asked that the attorneys to figure out a time to meet in the next ten days. “In a grand jury investigation, time is of the essence and I think your office is playing games with this,” Judge Mullen said.
Ultimately, Mullen required a response to the prosecutor’s motion to quash the search warrant be submitted by special prosecutors Gerard and Ryann Carmody by the 11th. The Circuit Attorney’s Office can then respond. Mullen indicated he will rule on the 12th whether the search warrant can proceed.
In court, it was indicated that Gardner was scheduled to testify before the grand jury on the 14th, but her attorneys indicated she would likely not be present.
UPDATE (12 p.m. Tuesday, March 12)
Judge Mullen ruled that Gardner's motion to quash the search warrant has been denied but Gardner's office has appealed to a higher court, which granted a stay on the warrant.