ST. LOUIS – A former prosecutor in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office could be the most important witness in the upcoming trial against Kim Gardner. There’s also an attempt to silence her, which is very much out in the open.
Natalia Ogurkiewicz came forward during arguments about what the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office should have to turn over. Ogurkiewicz, a former violent crimes prosecutor, spoke out in court, essentially saying, “I’ll turn it over.” She immediately felt the heat.
Outside the courtroom, Ogurkiewicz told the media, “This is an incredibly, incredibly uncomfortable exposed position for me to be in, but somebody has to do it in order for all of you to have all of the information that I feel that you need.”
Ogurkiewicz spoke out after Tuesday’s four-plus hour hearing, as Gardner supporters sometimes shouted over her.
“It’s important that the media tell the whole story!” said one man, armed with a bullhorn.
Ogurkiewicz yelled back, “That’s what I’m trying to do, and she’s trying to stop me from doing it!”
Moments earlier, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office complained about being stonewalled.
Judge Bill Corrigan, who’s the lead attorney on the case for Attorney General Andrew Bailey, told the judge, “We’ve been asking for documents since March 1. We don’t have a single document, nor has one ever been offered.”
At one point, Ogukiewicz’s attorney, Bob Plunkert, stood from the back to say his client could provide thousands of pages of documents.
The courtroom filled with outspoken Gardner supporters who weighed in.
“My position is if the people vote you in, they have to vote you out,” Bobby Williams said.
Another supporter, Charles Pruitt, added, “They have no business picking on (Gardner).”
Their sentiments were echoed in court by Gardner lawyer Jonathan Sternberg, who said, “The law of Missouri doesn’t allow what (the Attorney General) is trying to do here and use this court to oust Ms. Gardner for stuff he doesn’t agree with.”
Sternberg added that if Gardner is ousted, she’ll simply run again – and win.
Shouts erupted outside the courtroom with chants like, “Stop the public lynching!”
“We know race plays a vital role in a lot of the decisions going on around here,” supporter Willie Boyd said.
Ogurkiewicz, who resigned Friday, is hoping her inside information and documentation will help inform citizens.
“I am trying to help the public understand that the way the office has been running in my three-year tenure there…and I want the public to know about how fast these trials are going or not going,” she said.
Current Circuit Attorney employee Redditt Hudson also spoke outside, reading from a prepared statement.
“It’s cynical to pretend to care about public safety to pretend to act in the name of public safety while deliberately damaging it and attempting to disenfranchise St. Louis voters,” Hudson said.
Missouri Court of Appeals Judge John Torbitzky said in court that he hopes to move swiftly and in the open, with what will be regularly scheduled hearings every two weeks, leading up to the potential Sept. 25 trial date.