A St. Louis embattled prosecutor bankrolled by George Soros resigned on Thursday amid a legal effort by the attorney general of Missouri to fire her for allegedly neglecting her duties.
Kimberly Gardner, a St. Louis Circuit Attorney and the city’s top prosecutor said she is stepping down following ongoing bipartisan calls for her resignation from state officials.
Gardner’s office tweeted out her letter of resignation, which she addressed to the people of St. Louis.
The former prosecutor is one of the first progressive prosecutors Soros bankrolled in 2016 and again when she campaigned for re-election in 2020. Soros is a Democrat mega-donor and a liberal billionaire. She had recently announced last month she would be seeking a third term. Her resignation takes effect June 1.
Gardner’s office has faced criticism for office dysfunction and mishandling cases for years. The last straw for Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey came when a teenage volleyball player visited St. Louis with her team, was hit by a car, and lost both legs. The incident occurred in February.
A man was charged in the crash with armed criminal action, operating a motor vehicle without a valid license, and assault. At the time of the accident, he was out on bond awaiting trial for a different armed robbery case despite violating the terms of his bond numerous times.
Gardner argued her office had attempted to return the subject to jail but that a judge had denied the request. However, there are no records of her office requesting for his bond to be revoked, according to local publications. Gardner’s office monitors compliance with bond conditions and revokes them when the terms are violated.
Bailey filed a petition quo warranto in the wake of the incident. The petition is a mechanism under a state statute that allows the attorney general to remove a prosecutor who neglects the job’s duties.
AG claims almost 12,000 criminal cases dismissed by “Gardner’s failures”
AG Bailey claims almost 12,000 criminal cases have been dismissed by what he refers to as Gardner’s failures. He also maintains that more than 9,000 cases were tossed as they were about to go to trial, forcing judges to dismiss more than 2,000 cases due to what Bailey described as a failure to provide defendants with speedy trials and evidence.
Bailey was unsatisfied despite Gardner’s resignation and released a statement calling on her to leave office immediately rather than wait until the end of the month.
“There is absolutely no reason for the circuit attorney to remain in office until June 1,” said Bailey. “We remain undeterred with our legal quest to remove her from office forcibly. Every day she remains puts the city of St. Louis in more danger. How many victims will there be between now and June 1? How many defendants will have their constitutional rights violated? How many cases will continue to go unprosecuted?”
Gardner had refused to resign for months and called Bailey’s efforts a political “witch hunt” and a form of “voter suppression.” The former prosecutor suggested sexism and racism are behind some criticism against her.
A judge in St. Louis had set a tentative September 25 trial date to hear arguments from both sides.
In the meantime, Gardner’s office faces two contempt court proceedings after prosecutors failed to appear at multiple court dates. In one of the cases, a Missouri judge said Gardner had “complete indifference and a conscious disregard for the judicial process” and said her office was a “rudderless ship of chaos.”
Gardner’s time as a prosecutor was riddled with allegations of mishandled cases and misconduct well before her latest legal issues. In one case, she was publicly reprimanded and then fined by the Missouri Supreme Court. It remains unclear if the contempt hearings will be dropped.
She has been scrutinized for her soft-on-crime policies by critics.
Gardner was the first Black chief prosecutor of St. Louis.