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ST. LOUIS—Kimberly M. Gardner, the embattled St. Louis circuit attorney who had been accused of failing to perform her duties, has resigned effective June 1.
Gardner posted her letter of resignation on Twitter on May 4, two days after visiting judge John Torbitzky ordered seven out of 10 claims filed against her by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to move forward.
Bailey had filed a “writ of quo warranto” against Gardner in February, a legal proceeding seeking to oust her for alleged failure to perform her official duties.
Bailey asserted that Gardner had “forfeited” her office by failing in her duty to protect the public.
The move was initiated following public outcry after Janae Edmondson, a Tennessee teen, had both legs amputated following a car crash involving an alleged repeat bond violator on Feb. 18.
According to Bailey, Gardner’s other failures to take prosecutorial action resulted in some 12,000 criminal cases being dismissed, “endlessly frustrating courts and victims desperate for justice.”
Police are “drowning in drugs” seized in cases that have languished, Bailey wrote, and alleged that Gardner’s office had allowed arrest-warrant applications to go “unprocessed for more than eight months.”
Bailey also accused Gardner of agreeing to “extraordinary bond reductions” and failure to seek bond revocations for suspects charged with violent crimes.
Gardner had vowed to fight the attempt to remove her from office as recently as April 29.
“What you’re seeing is a witch hunt,” she said during a meeting with supporters that was recorded by KSDK News and posted on YouTube.
“I’m not leavin’. I’m not resigning. I’m not doing nothing. You will have to remove me.” Gardner said.
In her resignation letter, Gardner said it had been the “honor of a lifetime” to serve the people of St. Louis, who had twice elected her.
She said her decision to leave office was motivated by a bill advancing in the Missouri legislature that would make the city attorney a position appointed by the governor rather than an elected one.
“It is hard to think of a more direct or brutal assault on our democracy, one that mirrors the attacks in Jackson, Mississippi, and throughout Florida,” Gardner wrote.
Bailey reacted to Gardner’s resignation on Twitter, saying he would persist in seeking her removal.
“There is absolutely no reason for the Circuit Attorney to remain in office until June 1. We remain undeterred with our legal quest to forcibly remove her from office,” Bailey wrote.
“Every day she remains puts the city of St. Louis in more danger.”
Gardner is among many progressive prosecutors who received backing from billionaire financier George Soros, according to The Missouri Times.
The judges of the 22nd Circuit Court, who handle cases from Gardner’s office, issued a statement saying they are “deeply concerned about the high volume of serious criminal cases scheduled for trial in the coming weeks without assigned prosecutors.”
They said they would work with other leaders to help Gardner’s replacement. “We hope St. Louis’ next circuit attorney is successful in restoring stability to the office and rebuilding its ranks with experienced prosecutors.”
Janice Hisle contributed to this report.
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