St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has reached an agreement with the Missouri Office of Disciplinary Counsel acknowledging mistakes in her handling of the prosecution of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens but won’t face severe penalties, the Associated Press reports. The “joint stipulation” was announced Monday at the outset of a disciplinary hearing before a three-member panel. In the agreement, Gardner concedes that she failed to produce documents and mistakenly maintained that all documents had been provided to Greitens’ lawyers in the 2018 criminal case. The agreement says Gardner’s conduct “was negligent or perhaps reckless, but not intentional.” It calls for a written reprimand. A more severe punishment — suspension or disbarment — would likely cost Gardner her job because state law requires elected prosecutors to hold active law licenses. The panel must sign off on the agreement and make a recommendation to the Missouri Supreme Court, which decides punishment.
Gardner, a 46-year-old Democrat, is St. Louis’ first Black female circuit attorney and is one of several "progressive prosecutors" elected in recent years with a focus on creating more fairness in the criminal justice system. She told the panel Monday that the mistakes were due to the fast-moving nature of the Greitens case. Gardner hired private investigator William Tisaby, a former FBI agent. The investigation led to Greitens’ indictment on one felony count of invasion of privacy. Greitens claimed he had been the victim of a political witch hunt. Jury selection had just begun when Gardner dropped the charge after a judge ruled she would have to answer questions under oath from Greitens’ attorneys over her handling of the case. She said that it put her in an “impossible” position of being a witness in a case she was prosecuting.