ST. LOUIS – The Missouri Attorney General on Thursday filed a petition to remove the St. Louis Circuit Attorney from office because the city prosecutor refused to step down.
AG Andrew Bailey said his office, at 12:01 p.m., filed a writ of quo warranto against Kim Gardner, accusing her of neglecting her duties as circuit attorney. Gardner had been given a noon ultimatum to resign, but declined to do so.
The circuit attorney is facing a wave of calls to leave office in the aftermath of a tragedy involving a Tennessee teenager, who lost both of her legs in a crash caused by a driver with dozens of bond violations.
Janae Edmondson, 17, was visiting St. Louis with her family in order to participate in a volleyball tournament. The family was walking in downtown St. Louis around 8:40 p.m. last Saturday when a speeding driver failed to yield and collided with another vehicle. That second vehicle struck Edmondson, who has had both of her legs amputated since the crash.
The man accused in the crash, Daniel Riley, 21, was out on bond from a 2020 armed robbery case. Last August, he was given a personal recognizance bond that required him to be tracked by GPS and stay at home. Court records show he violated house arrest dozens of times leading up to the crash.
Joel Currier, a spokesperson for the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court, said prosecutors and defense attorneys are notified every time there is a bond violation.
“Every time a violation was filed, the assigned prosecutor and defense attorney of record received a notification via email according to normal procedure,” Currier said in a statement. “However, the prosecutors to this day has never filed a motion to revoke Riley’s bond in response to any of the 51 violations filed in his pending robbery case.”
Gardner’s office, in a statement Wednesday, alleges that prosecutors asked for higher bonds several times, though judges denied such requests. The office says the most recent effort to address Riley’s bond conditions came in January 2023, though says “there was no response” upon asking the court for a hearing date over Riley’s bond.
Attorney General Bailey said Gardner has made ethical, moral, and legal failures in executing her duties. He said that his office has lawyers available to help local prosecutors when requested, but is unaware of the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office ever filing such a request.
Bailey, a one-time assistant prosecuting attorney in Warren County, hopes to get the matter before a judge as soon as possible.
“At the end of the day, this is about the rule of law and about justice,” Bailey said.
Bailey’s quo warranto makes three claims against Gardner. The first, that she failed to prosecute cases pending in her jurisdiction; second, that she failed to “confer and inform” victims of court procedure on numerous occasions; and, finally, she’s neglected to file charges in new cases sent to her by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Adolphus M. Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP, said both the Missouri Attorney General and Senate Pro Tem have been misled on the matter by local police, and that he has “provided both offices with a set of facts that at least provides a clearer picture of the adjudication of Mr. Daniel Riley.”
Regarding the Riley case, Bailey said there are inconsistencies in Gardner’s claims, and that docket entries on Missouri Casenet prove that.
Were Gardner to resign or be removed from office, Bailey said Governor Mike Parson has the authority to fill the role if there is a vacancy, after consulting with city leadership.
Meanwhile, Gardner has called a 2:30 p.m. news conference to respond to the attorney general’s petition.
Gardner has faced mounting calls from Missouri lawmakers and St. Louis aldermen to resign, while St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones added that Gardner “needs to do some soul-searching” after recent developments.
This latest incident is another in a long wave of criticism and challenges facing Gardner. She was previously disciplined last year amid allegations of concealing evidence in a high-profile case. Former Attorney General Eric Schmitt also accused her of concealing evidence in efforts to vacate the conviction of Lamar Johnson.