ST. LOUIS – Two assistant prosecutors in the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office have resigned after being summoned for contempt of court hearings, along with their boss, Kim Gardner.
Attorney Chris Desilets’ resignation is effective immediately. On April 27, Judge Michael Noble scheduled “indirect contempt of court” hearings for both Desilets and Gardner, after Desilets no-showed an April 10 court date for a shooting case.
The shooting case is about an Oct. 2020 incident in which an 11-year-old girl was struck by a stray bullet. Steven Vincent, 28, faces nine counts, including first-degree assault, for the shooting.
Desilets had another attorney pass a note to Judge Noble, explaining that he had to miss court for a doctor’s appointment.
Noble asked Desilets to appear in court on April 24 with proof of the doctor’s appointment and to reschedule the start of trial. However, Desilets no-showed that hearing as well, prompting Noble to summon both Desilets and Gardner. Prior to the judge handing down the contempt of court order, Desilets acknowledged he was handling around 100 active felony cases.
This is the second assistant prosecutor to resign in recent weeks. Natalia Ogurkiewicz resigned on April 15, citing a toxic work environment, an unbearable workload, and a lack of support. She had been working on the Daniel Riley case. He’s the man accused in the tragic crash which caused Janae Edmondson to lose both her legs.
However, our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported another assistant prosecuting attorney, Alex Polta, resigned last Friday. He’d been with the office since 2017. Polta was at the center of a separate contempt of court hearing for the circuit attorney’s office.
Polta had been assigned to 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.
The trial was scheduled to begin on April 17, but Polta no-showed. Judge Scott Millikan requested both Gardner and Polta appear in his court on April 24 to “show cause” why they shouldn’t be held in contempt.
Polta informed Judge Millikan that he provided a medical note to the circuit attorney on April 9, showing that he needed extended medical leave. Gardner no-showed the April 24 hearing as well. Her outside counsel, Michael Downey, appeared on her behalf.
Ultimately, Milliken opted not to hold Gardner and Polta in contempt of court, saying it’s a very high bar to clear, and that it is not met by evidence, instead suggesting an office in chaos rather than one intentionally missing trials.
At this point, it’s unclear how many assistant prosecutors remain at the office.