In his final days in office, McCulloch orders prosecutors to steer clear of two judges

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Longtime St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch takes a parting shot at two judges.

Just 25 days before he leaves office, McCulloch ordered his attorneys to steer clear of judges Kristine Kerr and Nancy Watkins-McLaughlin.

It was an extraordinary move for a prosecutor, he admitted, but it was in the best interest of St. Louis County crime victims, he said.

McCulloch would not go into specifics about why.

Prosecutors will now ask for a change of judge in all cases assigned to Kerr and Watkins-McLaughlin.

Under court rules, attorneys get one judge change per case without having to give a reason.

A spokeswoman said only that McCulloch had the right to do this under court rules. McCulloch admitted he thought the judges went easy on convicted criminals in at least two recent cases.

A jury recommended six years for a woman convicted of molesting a 4-year-old. Judge Watkins-McLaughlin modified that to allow for release after a 120-day assessment.

A week ago, Judge Kerr sentenced Scott Bailey, an attorney convicted of killing a woman while street racing, to just 60 days in jail. Prosecutors sought four years in prison.

“It’s time,” McCulloch said when asked about the move.

McCulloch reiterated that it had nothing to do with any single case. He considered the judges to be friends, he said.

Incoming prosecutor Wesley Bell can undo the policy when he takes office next month. He has said he respects both judges.