ST. LOUIS – In a new court filing, the Missouri Attorney General claims St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner was at nursing school while she supposed to be attending a contempt of court hearing.
On May 4, Gardner announced she would be stepping down from her role as the city’s chief prosecutor, effective June 1.
Gardner had faced legal battles on numerous fronts via Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s drive to remove her from office and indirect criminal contempt cases, and a dwindling roster of prosecutors in her office due to resignations. It’s a situation at least one St. Louis judge dubbed a “rudderless ship of chaos.”
The day before the announcement, FOX 2 learned Gardner had enrolled in nursing courses at Saint Louis University to obtain an advanced nursing degree.
Gardner earned a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from Harris-Stowe State University in 1999. She attended Saint Louis University School of Law and earned her Juris Doctor (law degree) in 2003. She went back to SLU and procured her master’s degree in nursing in 2012.
During a May 3 news conference, AG Bailey said his office received information weeks ago that Gardner was taking classes since fall 2021, and had subpoenaed the school. Bailey requested the university turn over documents relating to Gardner’s class schedule, her hours and participation in class, hours she may have worked at the school, surveillance camera footage, and relevant conversation between Gardner and her instructors at SLU.
Gardner sought to quash the attorney general’s subpoenas, claiming Bailey’s quo warranto contained no references to her pursuits in the medical field. In Monday’s counter-filing, Bailey claimed that “On April 27, 2023 … Gardner apparently spent the morning and early afternoon hours completing clinical work in pursuit of her nursing degree.”
The attorney general says state law requires the circuit attorney and their assistants to “devote their entire time and energy to the discharge of their official duties,” making his request for Gardner’s school records relevant.
The April 27 contempt hearing was Gardner’s second no-show of the week. Three days earlier, a St. Louis Circuit Court judge declined to hold Gardner and another assistant circuit attorney in contempt after the prosecution failed to appear for the trial of Jonathon Jones, who was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the Sept. 6, 2021, shooting death of Brandon Scott near the Gateway Arch. Gardner’s outside counsel, Michael Downey, appeared at the April 24 hearing on her behalf.
But at that second hearing, Judge Michael Noble ruled for indirect criminal contempt proceedings for both Gardner and former deputy prosecutor Chris Desilets.
Bailey’s filing states that on the morning of April 27, an investigator working for the attorney general’s office went to the Family Care Health Center and found a vehicle in the parking lot registered to the City of St. Louis and used by Gardner for city business. The investigator watched the vehicle for nearly three hours, and observed Gardner leave the health center that afternoon, get into the city vehicle, and drive to the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown.
This is a developing news story and will be updated.