Those who think crooked cops run St. Louis must be following the current attack on St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner with interest.
Gardner is a progressive prosecutor who has been commended by racial-equity advocates and the city’s public defender for making strides toward reforming the city’s judicial system. She is also the first African American to hold the position.
Gardner has consistently challenged the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — even calling out detectives for obstructing her office’s investigation of a police officer who shot and killed a fellow cop.
And the police — most vocally, the police union — have pushed back. Now Gardner’s enemies see an opportunity to mass an attack and they are having some success.
In June 2018, Gardner filed a police report alleging that then-Missouri governor Eric Greitens’ lawyers threatened to ruin her personal and professional life if she sought charges against the governor. Yet almost a year later, the police department said that her case is still “under investigation,” according to a statement in March from Sgt. Keith Barrett.
At about the same time, in May 2018, Greitens’ attorneys filed a complaint against Gardner’s contract detective William Tisaby, alleging that he lied under oath during the Greitens’ felonious invasion of privacy case. The police managed to not only finish that investigation in a month, but also to ask City Counselor Julian Bush, a mayoral appointee, to file suit in Circuit Court on the police department’s behalf to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor.
Bush — who technically represents both the police department and the circuit attorney — should have sat this one out, but he instead inserted himself into the situation and filed the suit on June 27, 2018. Private attorney Gerard T. Carmody was appointed special prosecutor.
Bush could have told the police department that they already have the tapes on Tisaby, the deposition, witnesses, the Missouri House of Representatives report. They also have the power to issue search warrants. What do they need subpoena power for?
Instead, Bush all but handed the police the subpoena power, giving them access to thousands of Gardner’s files that have nothing to do with the Tisaby case. And, in doing so, using taxpayer dollars to pay for a private lawyer to access countless documents that risk the privacy of the accused, city employees and ongoing criminal investigations.
At a May 15 Board of Estimate and Apportionment meeting, Mayor Lyda Krewson said she believed Gardner was dragging the case out by refusing to abide by the special prosecutor’s search warrants. And Krewson read in the “paper” that Gardner had five different law firms working in her defense and didn’t understand why, she said.
Is Krewson a truly clueless mayor who is simply reading about the issue in the newspaper, even though her office had a key role in instigating this drawn-out witch hunt? Or is she really good (or bad) at playing a clueless puppet?
The legal representation is not only for Gardner but for an unknown number of employees who have been subpoenaed by the grand jury. These employees, who don’t have large salaries, otherwise would have to pay for their own defense.
Why do these her employees need defense counsel for testifying before the grand jury?
Because the police department and the special prosecutor have so far proven to be hostile and secretive in their actions, according to court documents filed on May 16 by Gardner’s defense.
On April 29, about 10 to 15 police officers entered the Circuit Attorney’s Office armed with guns and led by Sgt. Jatonya Clayborn and Ryann Carmody, the document states. (Ryann Carmody works with Gerard Carmody, the special prosecutor.)
“For the next 3.5 hours, these officers and Ms. Carmody engaged in a campaign of intimidation, misinformation and unethical conduct,” it states.
In one instance, Clayborn told the circuit attorney’s information technology specialist that she would “kick the door in” if he wouldn’t let her into the server closet. The police and Carmody also told staff that Gardner and her defense lawyers knew that they were coming, which was a false statement, it states.
This is considered law professional misconduct in Missouri’s rules of ethics, it states. They also “intimidated” the IT employee to provide passwords without the office’s lawyers being present and filmed his keystrokes — taking information that he did not provide willingly.
In his response to these claims submitted on May 28, Gerard Carmody states that the officers weren’t armed, the entire search was videotaped, and the police do not have to give any notice before a search warrant.
Gardner’s writ states that the office’s server “contains highly confidential, personal, and private information relating to on-going investigations and to the office’s employees — including attorney-client privilege and work product information.”
Carmody and the officers didn’t engage in any safeguards to protect confidential and private health, financial and other information stored on the server, Gardner claims in the motion.
For this one perjury case, why does a private attorney need the circuit attorney’s entire email server?
By allowing these tactics, the court is setting a dangerous precedent, Gardner’s lawyers explain.
“To require the disclosure of this highly sensitive information would eradicate the necessary confidential nature of criminal investigations and open the floodgates to others, including criminal defense attorneys, having access to the privileged information of any CAO investigation,” her motion states.
“In my decades of work in the criminal justice system, I have never seen a chief prosecutor treated this way by a court or a police department,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Gardner’s attorney, in a March statement.
He believes the city-appointed special prosecutor, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and even Judge Michael Mullen are trying to “intimidate and humiliate” Gardner and “strip her of the powers granted to her by the people of the City of St. Louis.”
And while the mayor, as well as the President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed who agreed with Krewson at the May 15 meeting, pretend to be naive, they play a complicit role in the damage that is being done — the very least of which is money. More important is the community’s trust and the horrific precedents being set in the courts.
To be continued …
Carmody and the cops
If you have a real estate problem in town, you hire Gerard “Jerry” Carmody. He’s one of the best real estate attorneys in town.
The NFL also hired him to defend them in a lawsuit brought by the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority — after the Rams left St. Louis.
He also represented the city in a lawsuit challenging the city’s $390 million tax increment financing deal for Paul McKee Jr.’s Northside Regeneration project.
For reasons that the public will never know — because there is no documentation of this decision — Circuit Judge Michael Mullen thought this highly regarded and expensive real estate lawyer would be the best fit for the special prosecutor in the Tisaby case. The American asked the circuit court if any hearings were held regarding Carmody’s potential conflicts of interest as special prosecutor, and Mullen responded that there was at least one hearing on the appointment. The EYE can’t imagine there was more than one because the decision to have Carmody as special prosecutor was made two days after the city counselor filed suit to seek a special prosecutor in the case. No transcript exists for any hearings. There are no letters or reports explaining Mullen's decision, and Carmody was not required to fill out any forms regarding potential conflicts of interest, a court spokesman said.
However, Carmody MacDonald firm does have conflicts of interest, according to a motion to disqualify Carmody filed on April 26 by Gardner’s defense team.
Edward L. Dowd Jr., of Dowd Bennett law firm, was part of the team defending Greitens. Dowd participated in the deposition of Tisaby that underlies the alleged perjury charge at the heart of all this mess. Therefore, Dowd is a significant witness in the investigation, it states. Dowd filed a police report alleging the perjury. He does philanthropic work that aids the families of police officers.
Carmody and Dowd were law partners for years with the firm Bryan Cave, the motion states, and the Carmody family has a close relationship with the Dowds.
Appointing Carmody, despite this “well known, self-evidently compromising relationship,” demonstrates a lack of “neutrality and fairness in this investigation,” the motion states.
And it’s not the “norm” to appoint a special prosecutor from a private practice, it states, and the court should have conducted a conflict of interest analysis.
“These unaddressed conflicts simply sit there, like time bombs that will eventually make it nearly impossible to base any prosecution on this ‘investigation,’” the motion states. “It is almost enough to make one suspect that this investigation has always been about something other than impartial administration of justice. Indeed, the special prosecutor’s attempt to target Circuit Attorney Gardner in this limited investigation has the hallmarks of making good on the statements made by Greitens’ legal team.”
The motion further states that the court could not ignore the “very strong likelihood” that, “the police division used the Tisaby matter as a mere pretext for securing an appointment that would settle scores, old and new, on behalf of the former governor and the current partisans within the police division.”