ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) – The St. Louis Circuit Attorney is fighting an order to turn over the addresses and other personal information of crime victims and witnesses to attorneys representing defendants.
“We have a real problem with witness intimidation,” said Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce.
Her office is asking a judge to reconsider an order to turn over personal information in 172 cases. A hearing is set for Friday afternoon. Joyce’s office will ask to argue case by case why witness and victim information should be protected.
The Missouri Court of Appeals has agreed to take up the issue regarding 14 cases in the City of St. Louis. Ultimately a decision from the Missouri Supreme Court could decide the issue.
“I want to be able to sleep in my own bed at night without the fear of someone breaking into my house.” That’s what a St. Louis carjacking victim said after learning her personal information could be turned over to her accused attacker. We agreed not to reveal her identity because of her safety concerns.
Serena Wilson-Griffin also has concerns. Her cousin Andre Walker was murdered in March. He was killed in broad daylight with nearly a dozen people nearby, but witnesses have been reluctant to come forward.
“One witness in particular, their family’s house was shot up multiple times,” said Wilson-Griffin. “The culture and the climate in St. Louis right now truly shows that things have changed, and the threat to witnesses is real.”
Joyce is not pointing blame at any judge or defense attorneys. She said, “This is about a rule that was passed in 1979 that is now obsolete and needs to be updated in order to protect victims, witnesses and protect the criminal justice system itself.”
Joyce says two potential witnesses have been murdered in the past two months. She says witness intimidation is a serious problem. She fears turning over personal information of victims and witnesses will only create a bigger problem.