JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – After months of calls, requests, and demands for her to resign, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is stepping down. Her resignation is effective June 1.
Gardner, the city’s first African American chief prosecutor, announced her resignation Thursday afternoon. “It is with a heavy heart but steadfast resolve that I am resigning my position as your Circuit Attorney, effective June 1st,” she says in a two-page letter.
Missouri officials and lawmakers have learned of this decision and are weighing in on Gardner, who resigned following a series of legal battles.
Mike Parson – Missouri Governor
“Our office has officially been notified of the resignation of Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, effective June 1, 2023.
We fully understand the gravity of this situation and approach our duty to appoint a replacement with the utmost seriousness. We will immediately start the replacement process according to the Missouri Constitution and Section 105.050, RSMo.
We are committed to finding a candidate who represents the community, values public safety, and can help restore faith in the City’s criminal justice system
Andrew Bailey – Missouri Attorney General
“There is absolutely no reason for the Circuit Attorney to remain in office until June 1st. We remain undeterred with our legal quest to forcibly remove her from office. Every day she remains puts the city of St. Louis in more danger. How many victims will there be between now and June 1st? How many defendants will have their constitutional rights violated? How many cases will continue to go unprosecute.”
Bailey had filed a quo warranto lawsuit in an effort to remove Gardner from office in February.
Tishaura Jones – St. Louis Mayor
“In February, I said Circuit Attorney Gardner should take accountability for her office and do some soul-searching to determine whether or not she wants to continue in her role. She has clearly taken that advice to heart by offering her resignation.
“Circuit Attorney Gardner made history by becoming the first Black woman to lead the office. There’s no doubt she has faced more obstacles than her predecessors because of it. Our Circuit Attorney’s Office is a critical public safety partner, and it must be managed and staffed effectively to help protect constitutional rights and deliver justice.
“No one wanted to see the Circuit Attorney’s Office fail, and my administration has reached out consistently to the Office to offer assistance. We are hopeful that the governor will work with local leaders to appoint a successor who reflects the values of communities across St. Louis.
Wesley Bell – St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney
“Obviously, this was an incredibly difficult decision for Circuit Attorney Gardner to make, and I wish her the best as she transitions into the next chapter of her life and career.
“As many people and stakeholders who care about this region and our collective safety understand, the Circuit Attorney’s Office is vital to a thriving and safer St. Louis region. To that end, we stand ready to assist our City of St. Louis family in any way we can.”
Mike Kehoe – Missouri Lt. Governor
“Kim Gardner’s decision to resign as the St. Louis Circuit Attorney is a major step forward in restoring the rule of law in St. Louis. This is the only decision she has made during her tenure with which I agree.
Dysfunction in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office, and Kim Gardner’s unwillingness to take violent crime seriously, has hindered St. Louis for years. This resignation is long overdue. Further, Kim Gardner should never run for this office again.
I was born and raised in St. Louis and I know the opportunities the city can provide. However, economic growth and success cannot take place in a lawless environment. I will continue to work with law enforcement and community leaders to help restore accountability and secure safety and justice for the people of St. Louis.”
Missouri State Sen. John Rizzo (D-Jackson County)
Rizzo and Gardner had a phone call yesterday hinting that her resignation could soon be coming.
“At that point, she decided it would be best for her, for the city of St. Louis first and also for her personally after all the stuff she has been through, to resign.”
This is a developing story. Check back for more reaction.
Missouri House Leadership – Speaker Dean Plocher
“We have achieved an important victory in restoring law and order in the City of St. Louis with this resignation. Addressing the violent crime crisis that has destabilized the St. Louis region has been one of our highest priorities this session, which has included holding the Circuit Attorney accountable for the willful neglect of her constitutional duties. Members of the General Assembly brought much-needed pressure and filed important legislation this session to force this debate and resignation. State government will act when local government fails to secure the safety of our communities and protect Missourians, which has been evident in the City of St. Louis. Now is the time for local leadership to take responsibility and take action to once again earn the trust of the people and return St. Louis to the great city we all know it should be. It is time to work together to restore accountability, deliver justice for victims, stand with our brave men and women in law enforcement, and restore the rule of law in the City of St. Louis.”
Judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit of Missouri
“The judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit in St. Louis remain committed to serving the people of our great city and are ready to work with the next Circuit Attorney. We hope St. Louis’ next Circuit Attorney is successful in restoring stability to the Office and rebuilding its ranks with experienced prosecutors.
However, the judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit remain deeply concerned about the high volume of serious criminal cases scheduled for trial in the coming weeks without assigned prosecutors. We remain hopeful that community stakeholders in the St. Louis region will work together to offer support and assistance to the new Circuit Attorney as quickly as possible.”
Jason Hall – CEO, Greater St. Louis, Inc.
“The announcement of resignation by Kim Gardner is long overdue. As we have said for months, her incompetent management and unforgiveable failures have made our community less safe and criminals more emboldened. That combination failed the people who elected her and residents across the St. Louis metro.
“Violent crime is one of the largest barriers to economic growth and prosperity in our metro area. We hope new leadership in the Circuit Attorney’s Office will bring clear focus on reducing violent crime, ensuring justice, and rebuilding trust in the criminal justice system.
“We offer our support to Governor Parson as he makes the critical selection of a replacement. We encourage him to appoint someone that can rebuild the office of the Circuit Attorney and who will work with regional leaders in the spirit of collaboration to develop a strategy to reduce violent crime and help our metro move forward.”