ST. LOUIS – As the St. Louis Circuit Attorney joined her legal team in court on Tuesday to call for a judge to dismiss Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s case calling for her removal from office, another judge was threatening to jail her for contempt of court.

Circuit Judge Scott Millikan’s order said Gardner “must appear before this court to show cause why you should not be held in indirect criminal contempt of this court and be sentenced to a term of imprisonment, be required to pay a fine, or both.”

The judge’s action came after Gardner’s assistant, who was prosecuting an Arch grounds murder from September 2021, did not show up for day 1 of the trial on Monday. Millikan said there was no word from Gardner’s office as to why. As a result, the judge said the case may have to be dropped and suspect Jonathon Jones set free, though police said he and an accomplice were caught on camera shooting the victim to death. His attorney is invoking the defendant’s right to a speedy trial by April 26.

A hearing on that contempt issue is set for April 24.

Gardner faces a new challenge from neighboring St. Louis County. Four mayors said it’s time for her office to be combined with the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office.

“It is not just a single source issue, for example, Kim Gardner,” said Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin. “Do I think she does a great job in that office? I don’t. (This) needs to be addressed, this problem, on a fundamental, long term, permanent basis.”

The mayors of Manchester, Bridgeton, and Brentwood have joined Bowlin in calling for state lawmakers to take action on their six-point plan to force courts and prosecutors to get tough on adult and juvenile gun, drug, and car crimes.

St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell released the following statement:

I haven’t had an opportunity to review the proposal and as a result don’t have a comment on it. I will say that I strongly believe prosecutors should be elected and removed from office by the voters. So, I am encouraged to see the General Assembly focusing on making lasting improvements to our criminal justice system to make us all safer. I also believe the future prosperity of the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County are tied together, and helping each other however we can is a positive thing.

As for the Missouri General Assembly, a bill to allow the governor to appoint a special prosecutor for five years to help Gardner prosecute crimes like the Arch grounds murder case has overwhelmingly passed the Missouri House. It could pass the Missouri Senate and head for the governor’s desk as early as next week.

Gardner’s did not respond to requests for comment.