ST. LOUIS – Three days after Kim Gardner abruptly resigned as the St. Louis Circuit Attorney, her replacement has been chosen.
Gabriel “Gabe” Gore has been named the next St. Louis Circuit Attorney. Gore will finish out the rest of Gardner’s term through January 2025.
Gore has served as a member of the Dowd Bennett law firm since 2010 and is described as an “experienced trial lawyer who concentrates on complex civil litigation and white collar defense,” according to the law firm’s website. He brings more than 23 years of experience in private law practice.
“Working together, I am confident we can build a prosecuting attorney’s office that is one of the highest performing in the country,” said Gore after he was officially announced as Circuit Attorney on Friday.
Gore says his top priorities will be building a staff of qualified attorneys and professionals, plus building strong relationships between the St. Louis community, his office and other regional and state officials.
“This [is] a historic opportunity to serve the city I love,” said Gore. “As I accept this appointment, my sole focus is to begin the process of building a circuit attorney’s office that is high-performing and can provide the level of justice and public safety that the citizens of St. Louis deserve.”
Gov. Mike Parson appointed Gore after 18 candidates, including five judges, applied for consideration. Parson reiterated several times that he wanted to find a candidate who represented the St. Louis community, values and public safety.
“Today is a new day that allows us to recommit ourselves to a stronger judicial system in the City of St. Louis, and we appreciate Mr. Gore for answering the call to serve his community,” said Parson. “Mr. Gore has shown he is a strong manager, talented attorney, proud community leader, and even prouder husband and father who is ready to work hard and be a leader for the people of St. Louis.”
Parson says it was also important to select a candidate with commitment to the rule of law, strong managerial experience and was a member of the St. Louis community.
Gore will take over an office recently deemed as a “rudderless ship of chaos” by one St. Louis judge. He will inherit an office that experienced a dwindling number of prosecutors in recent months under Gardner. The office has a backlog of thousands of pending cases to review and has already had some dismissed this week amid the transition.
“We know he wants to do right by the people who do the same in [St. Louis],” said Parson. “He has a tall task ahead of him, but we know he is the right man at the right time to restore trust in the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”
Before his work at Dowd Bennet, Gore also served as a member of the Office of Special Counsel John C. Danforth’s Waco Investigation from 1999 to 2000. He also has experience as an assistant U.S. Attorney, where he tried federal prosecutions through a drug task force. Gore has also served as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Gore has also been recognized for his advocacy of diverse populations. He has served on boards or as a member of several St. Louis regional agencies like St. Louis Community Foundation, Ferguson Commission and KIPP St. Louis Charter School. Through some of these roles, he focused on addressing issues like racial injustice, economic inequality and municipal court reform.
Gore earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Missouri State University in 1991, where he was a track and cross-country athlete for several years. He later earned his Juris Doctor (law degree) from University of Chicago Law School, where he was once taught by future president Barack Obama.
Regional and state officials offered the following comments after Parson’s appointment of Gore:
Tishaura Jones – St. Louis Mayor
(Via Nick Desideri, Communications Director for the Mayor’s Office)
“From the beginning, the [St. Louis Mayor] emphasized our next [Circuit Attorney] must have experience and the trust of the community. Gabe Gore is a great choice and will help bring stability to the office, which is necessary to protect constitutional rights and deliver justice for victims.
“The selection of Gabe Gore shows how seriously Governor Parson took his commitment to engaging St. Louis clergy, elected leaders, and the community around this appointment, especially in such a short period of time.”
Wesley Bell – St. Louis County Pros. Attorney
“I’ve always been consistent that we stand ready to help our City of St. Louis partners. Now, with the appointment of Circuit Attorney Gore, I’ll make it plain: the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office stands ready to help in any way that we can to help stabilize the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. Those who commit serious and violent crimes do not recognize jurisdictional borders, thus real solutions to violent crime must involve working across political boundaries in the interest of our collective public safety. Public safety in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County is invariably interconnected, and a functioning Circuit Attorney’s Office is vital to the safety of this entire region. My colleagues in prosecutor’s offices across the region have expressed their support as well, and I look forward to everyone pulling together during this critical transition in the Circuit Attorney’s Office.”
Eric Schmitt – Missouri U.S. Senator
“For years, St. Louis’ most violent criminals have gotten a pass while victims have painfully waited for justice. This refusal to take crime seriously has negatively impacted not just the City of St. Louis but also the region and Missouri as a whole. It’s my hope that Circuit Attorney Gore will work to aggressively prosecute crime in the City of St. Louis, obtain long-awaited justice for victims, and ensure that those who live and work in the city feel safe.”
On an interim basis, Parson appointed counsel Evan Rodriguez to fill in as the acting circuit attorney prior to Gore’s selection for the role. Before that, Parson had initially intended for the new circuit attorney to start on June 1, but that timeline was accelerated due to Gardner’s sudden departure.
Gardner, the city’s first African American chief prosecutor, agreed to step down if state lawmakers would drop their push to approve a special prosecutor to handle felony cases in the city. She initially intended to resign on June 1, but she officially stepped down on Tuesday.
After mounting legal challenges, an embattled Gardner officially resigned from her office nearly two weeks before she initially planned to step down. Before then, she was facing a quo warranto lawsuit from the Missouri Attorney General and an indirect criminal contempt case, both accusing her of neglecting various duties as circuit attorney.
Outrage against Gardner stems from a tragedy in February involving Janae Edmondson, an out-of-town teenager who suffered a life-changing injury in St. Louis due to a driver who was out on bond awaiting trial for armed robbery.
Gardner easily won the Democratic primary for circuit attorney in August 2016 over three challengers, including former St. Louis prosecutor Mary Pat Carl, and ran unopposed in the November general election. She assumed office on Jan. 6, 2017. In 2020, Gardner beat Carl again in the primary en route to landslide victory over Republican Daniel Zdrodowski.
Before becoming circuit attorney, she was a congresswoman in the Missouri House, representing District 77, covering part of St. Louis City. She won Democratic primaries in 2012 and 2014 by wide margins and ran unopposed in general elections. She declined to seek a third term, opting to run for circuit attorney.
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 in 2003. She went back to SLU and procured her master’s degree in nursing in 2012.
She began her law career at Bell, Kirksey & Associates, and worked at the circuit attorney’s office from 2005 to 2010.
Gardner, born and raised in north St. Louis City, worked at her family’s funeral home. On her re-election campaign website, she said seeing the effects of violent crime first hand inspired her to get involved in the healthcare and justice systems.