The response to news of Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II’s ruling was swift. Social media was a-blaze. The ruling to disqualify St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from prosecuting the case of the gun-waving McCloskeys smacks of racism, white privilege and sexism.
The re-election of Clark was targeted in 2018 by St. Louis activists. The campaign was not successful in unseating him but it took a sizable bite out of his votes that year: Clark received 55 percent of the vote compared to 65 percent in 2016.
Clark’s judgment in the case against Mark McCloskey harped on the “compelling and constitutionally sacred” right to a fair trial. Yet there are defendants and attorneys who believed their right to a fair trial was compromised with Clark on the bench. This judge is no beacon for real justice.
Technically, the federal judge’s ruling only applies to Mark McCloskey, one half of the now-famous duo. But any attorney worth their salt will use it as precedent for getting the same judgment for their client. That client would be Mark’s spouse, Patricia McCloskey.
Clark’s order doesn’t apply to Patricia McCloskey, but her attorney has also motioned to prevent a Black prosecutor from trying her case.
The judge in her case is Michael Steltzer. He’s a circuit judge who was targeted for un-election because he also has a track record similar to Clark’s. I hope you see the tangled web they weave.
The McCloskeys are wealthy, white attorneys. I know of no Black or poor people who have been able to get the prosecutor of their choice for their case.
I know plenty who filed legitimate motions to get a biased judge off their case or to get a change in venue or to get the bail reduced. Denied. Denied. Denied.
The McCloskeys this summer threatened non-violent protesters who were on their way to the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson. The McCloskey’s self-made drama created political theater that catapulted them into the bright lights at the Republican National Convention. Talk about actions for political purposes!
Republican Sen. Josh Hawley jumped in with his unwavering support, urging Attorney General William Barr to sanction Gardner. Twelve U.S. representatives signed a letter to Barr urging him to use his powers to smack down a local prosecutor doing her job.
All 12 reps are white and male except for one white female. In trumpian-style Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons offered a pardon before the couple was even charged.
All of these actions were politically motivated — as have been most of the attacks on St. Louis’ first African American prosecutor. Their racist rhetoric has been used to whip up the Republic base. The results have been continued death threats against Gardner and sabotage of her office’s authority.
The double standards of decency and justice are continually exposed in our legal and political systems. Under the current Republican regimes, it has been a downright racist mockery.
Those of us who recognize the political sickness infecting our democracy will continue to fight for laws that protect the people and for the public servants who protect those laws.