St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is still off the McCloskey case after the Missouri Court of Appeals in St. Louis rejected her argument that she shouldn’t have been removed as prosecutor by a St. Louis judge late last year. Because Gardner used the case against Mark and Patricia McCloskey in fundraising appeals during her re-election campaign, Judge Michael Stelzer determined in two separate decisions that Gardner had disqualified herself.
Gardner would now need a Missouri Supreme Court order overturning her office’s exclusion from the cases. A spokeswoman for Gardner said the office would appeal.
Mark McCloskey, 64, and Patricia McCloskey, 61, pleaded not guilty in October to charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering after they waved guns at protesters walking past the McCloskeys’ mansion on Portland Place — a private and gated street — to a demonstration blocks away outside the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson. The McCloskeys said they felt threatened by the group as it walked by.
The McCloskeys sought and won Gardner’s removal from the case, alleging she exploited it for political gain in campaign fundraising emails. Gardner, a Democrat, argued she had the right to defend against Republican political attacks.
Gardner technically has one appeal left, but I don’t think the Missouri Supreme Court is going to side with Gardner on this one. The pure politicking involved in this case stretches beyond the fundraising appeals, quite honestly, but that alone is enough to disqualify her from being a part of the case going forward.
In my opinion, there shouldn’t have been any charges filed to begin with, but the evidence tampering charge is particularly egregious given the fact that the McCloskeys say the pistol that was in Patricia McCloskeys hand had been rendered inoperable some time before, when it was used as evidence in a trial. It was actually the St. Louis prosecutor’s office that actually tampered with the evidence and returned the firearm to a state of ready use.
I suspect that Gardner desperately wants to be involved in this case for the same reason she called out the McCloskeys long before she ever charged them; the publicity. Even though Missouri Gov. Brad Parson has stated that he’ll pardon the couple if they’re convicted, and Attorney General Eric Schmitt is still trying to take over the case so he can dismiss the charges, Gardner just can’t let this go, or even turn the case (and the accompanying attention) over to a special prosecutor. She needs this case because of the headlines it provides for her, which is exactly why she shouldn’t be a part of it at all.