A special prosecutor has dominated local and national headlines for almost two years, and admittedly Robert Mueller’s investigation of the Trump organization, presidential campaign and administration is one of the pivotal events in our nation’s history. But the local public — particularly the progressive majorities that elected the first African-American chief prosecutors in St. Louis city and county — also needs to pay close attention to another, local special prosecutor.
Gerard Carmody is a local attorney in private practice appointed special prosecutor by presiding Circuit Judge Michael Mullen to weigh charges against William Tisaby (and anyone else incriminated in the probe). We believe there is evidence that Tisaby perjured himself (or misspoke) in the legal proceeding to investigate whether then-Gov. Eric Greitens committed felonious invasion of privacy against a local woman during his campaign for governor. Investigating a possible perjury charge against Tisaby is not unreasonable — someone investigating a felony charge against a sitting governor should be held to the law’s highest standards — and clearly St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has a conflict in this case, because she hired Tisaby to perform the investigation and at the very least is a witness.
What is not reasonable is Mullen’s appointment of Carmody to prosecute this case. Carmody is widely known to be personal friends with Ed Dowd, one of Greitens’ many lawyers who defended him against the charges Gardner pursued. Further, Gardner formally complained that Greitens’ attorneys threatened to damage her career if she pursued those charges. We believe Mullen should be and is aware of her claims. For Mullen then to appoint Carmody to prosecute the man she hired to investigate Greitens shows at best contempt for Gardner’s claims of intimidation (without any legal process to substantiate or refute them) and at worst complicity in an effort to in fact damage Gardner’s career.
We believe that Gardner’s handling of the Greitens case was flawed and deserves scrutiny, and Tisaby’s role was critical. The appointment of a federal prosecutor to investigate Tisaby as special prosecutor would have been reasonable. But Mullen’s appointment of Carmody raises serious questions about Mullen’s judgment and ethics. It’s even more troubling that Mullen granted Carmody — a private attorney — a sweeping search warrant against Gardner that, if executed, would put him in possession of an enormous amount of confidential information about past and current criminal cases. Fortunately, for now, an appeals court blocked the execution of that search warrant.
Lurking in the shadows of what appears to be a concerted effort to damage Gardner is the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. The police seized Gardner’s email server along with the special prosecutor, and they are highly motivated to obtain evidence against the circuit attorney
and Tisaby. She hired Tisaby, in fact, when St. Louis police were less than cooperative in the investigation of Greitens. When the police leaked evidence of the Brady List of unreliable police witnesses that Gardner keeps, as all prosecutors do and should, she rightly and courageously defended the need for such a list. Gardner has made many police enemies by doing what she was elected to do, which includes holding accountable a frequently lawless and unconstitutional police department.
To revisit Mullen’s role in this matter, she also is making many judicial enemies by working with the public defender and community advocates to challenge the cash bail system that local judges lazily and unethically have entrenched in our criminal justice system.
We are as anxious as anyone to know what Mueller has on Trump, but we believe the local voters who elected Gardner need to be paying much closer attention to what the special prosecutor on the Tisaby case is doing. We need to be looking into what role Mullen and the police are playing in what appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to destroy her career and undermine her efforts to reform a criminal justice system that is badly damaging our region and its ability to fulfill more of its potential.