Greetens case at center of investigation for St. Louis prosecutor

scheduled tribe. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri Gov. 2018 prosecutor Eric Greetens was instrumental in his eventual resignation. Now, questions about St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s handling of the case jeopardize her career, even as Greetens tries to make a political comeback.

Gardner faces a hearing Monday before the Missouri Office of Disciplinary Council. She has been accused of failing to disclose evidence to Grittens’ attorneys, misrepresenting evidence, and other ethical breaches in the 73-page report.

If the three-person panel finds fault, it will be up to the Missouri Supreme Court to decide the sentence, although a decision will not be expected for several weeks. The most severe punishment — suspension or dismissal — would likely cost Gardner his job because state law requires elected prosecutors to hold an active law license.

Gardner, a 46-year-old Democrat, is St. Louis’ first black female circuit attorney and one of several progressive prosecutors elected in recent years with a focus on creating greater fairness in the criminal justice system.

Over the past 12 months, Grittens has emerged as a leading contender for the Republican nomination for one of Missouri’s US Senate seats, despite recent allegations of abuse by his ex-wife.

The former Navy SEAL officer with presidential aspirations took a year into his first term when news of his affair with a St. Louis hairdresser surfaced three years ago in January 2018. The woman alleged that Greetens took the objectionable photo and threatened to use it as blackmail if it talked about their relationship.

Gardner’s attorney, Michael Downey, said, “There was one victim, someone saying they were attacked.”

But neither the FBI nor the St. Louis Police were inclined to investigate, Downey said. Gardner’s in-house investigator was away on military duty.

So Gardner hired private investigator William Tisabi, a former FBI agent. The investigation led to Grittens’ indictment on one felony count of invasion of privacy. Grittens claimed to have been the victim of a political witch hunt.

Jury selection had just begun when Gardner dropped the charge after a judge ruled that he would have to answer questions under oath from Grittens’ attorneys to handle the case. She said it put her in an “impossible” position to be a witness in the case she was prosecuting.

Meanwhile, Gardner filed a second charge accusing Grittens of tampering with computer data, which allegedly disclosed a list of top donors to a veterans charity he founded without permission to donate to his political fundraiser.

Also under scrutiny by lawmakers, Greetens resigned in June 2018, and Gardner agreed to drop the criminal charges.

Then attention turned to how Gardner and Tisabi handled the investigation. In 2019, Tisabi was charged with six counts of perjury and one count of tampering with evidence. He pleaded guilty last month to tampering with evidence, and received a suspended sentence of one year’s probation.

The case stems from Tisabi’s statement that he had not taken the note in an interview with the woman when a video later showed he had, and his statement that he had not received the note from the prosecutor’s office when he took the woman’s note. The interview was done when the latter showed a document that he had.

Lawyers for Grittens expressed concerns about Gardner’s failure to correct the record on Tisby’s statements, and whether he concealed evidence.

Downey said that any mistake was unintentional, a result of Gardner’s heavy workload during the Grittens investigation.

“In the circumstances of the case, I think they were doing the best they could to manage the case,” Downey said. “We have acknowledged in our reply that mistakes were made.”

Peter Joy, a professor at the Washington University School of Law who teaches and writes about legal ethics, said the fact that Gardner did not disclose Tysabi’s note ban is not necessarily a violation because Missouri law prohibits such disclosure. does not specify a timeline for – and testimony in this case did not even begin.

“I don’t think the morality case against him is that clear,” Joy said. “It’s not false evidence.”

If he’s disciplined, Joy said there’s little chance Gardner will be suspended or banned. This would disappoint his critics, who maintain that Gardner’s office is useless and ineffective.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that last summer, charges in three murder counts were dropped because prosecutors failed to appear in court or prepare after months of delays. The newspaper also cited figures from the Circuit Court, which showed that nearly one-third of felony cases were dismissed – triple the percentage of its predecessor.

Gardner argues that his reforms have made the city safer and the criminal justice system more equitable. He has expanded a diversion program and stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana possession, which has helped ease prison overcrowding.

Gardner has often had conflicts with police, especially in 2019, when he placed dozens of officers on an “exclusion list,” preventing them from bringing cases. The list was developed after a national group accused officials of posting racist and anti-Muslim comments on social media.

In 2020, Gardner sued the city, a police union and others alleging a coordinated and racist conspiracy aimed at ousting him from office. The lawsuit alleges a violation of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, which was adopted to thwart attempts to deny civil rights to racial minorities.

Downey said in a court filing that the latest ethical complaints include “another attempt by Ms. Gardner’s political enemies – primarily from outside St. Louis – to remove Ms. Gardner and thwart her champion systemic reforms.”

Greetens remained largely out of sight until Sen. Roy Blunt’s announcement in March 2021 that he would not seek a third term. Republican leaders worry that he may win the primary but lose to Democrats in the general election, which should be a fixed GOP seat.

During a court filing in a child custody case last month, Sheena Grittens accused her ex-husband of physically abusing her and their children. Eric Greetens called the allegations “completely fabricated” and “baseless”.

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