Politics /

St. Louis Prosecutor Kim Gardner Announces Resignation

Departure follows massive staffing shortage that left two prosecutors handling more than 400 felony cases

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner has resigned from office amid bipartisan calls for her departure.

Missouri lawmakers have recently introduced legislation that would strip a significant amount of her power.

Gardner has come under fire for a series of staff departures that resulted in the loss of more than 350 years of prosecutorial experience.

Before she took office in 2017, the attorney’s office had 58 prosecutors with 500 years of cumulative experience. Now, the office has just 30 employees with roughly 130 years of cumulative experience, with just five staff attorneys and a supervisor handling most of the city’s serious felony cases as of February this year.

Now, there are just two prosecutors handling more than 470 felony cases split between them.

“It’s literally like working in a dumpster fire,” St. Louis Defense Attorney Scott Rosenblum told local NBC affiliate KSDK. “It’s just sad and there are still lawyers down there trying to do the job, but it’s untenable. Nobody can do it. Nobody can work in those conditions.”

Days before Gardner’s resignation announcement, judges expressed concern over the staffing shortages in the prosecutor’s office.

“More recent departures from the Circuit Attorney’s Office — leaving fewer attorneys to prosecute hundreds of serious cases on the trial docket — are deeply concerning to the judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court,” court system spokesperson Joel Currier said in a statement. “We will continue to make reasonable accommodations amid the CAO’s current staffing crisis while always balancing the rights of defendants, crime victims and their families to ensure the fair and efficient administration of justice.”

In a resignation letter sent to Gov. Mike Parson, Gardner makes no mention of the problems that have plagued her office, but took aim at efforts to force her departure.

“Since day one of my tenure as Circuit Attorney, I have experienced attacks on my reforms, on my judgment, on my integrity, on my prosecutorial discretion, on my responsibility to direct the limited resources of this office and more,” Gardner wrote in her resignation letter.

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