The St. Louis prosecutor who charged Mark and Patricia McCloskey for waving their guns at protesters last summer could have her law license revoked following a professional misconduct investigation.
The Missouri Chief Disciplinary Counsel found probable cause that Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner is “guilty of professional misconduct.” She allegedly hid evidence and fabricated facts while she was prosecuting then-Gov. Eric Greitens. Greitens was a rising GOP start until he got hit with an investigation.
Gardner’s office released the following statement, “As the Circuit Attorney has repeatedly proven time after time, she has acted in full accordance with the law during the investigation into former Governor Greitens. Despite several investigations attempting to uncover illegal wrongdoing by her office in this case, none has ever been found. We are confident that a full review of the facts will show that the Circuit Attorney has not violated the ethical standards of the State of Missouri.”
Greitens was indicted on one count of invasion of privacy for transmitting a photograph of someone who was partially nude. The charge was dropped in May 2018 when Greitens resigned as part of a deal to drop felony computer-tampering charges.
Authorities are now saying Gardner concealed investigation details, failed to disclose facts to Greitens’s legal team, and misrepresented evidence to the court.
“The allegations here are clearly very serious,” said John Ammann, Professor Emeritus of St. Louis University School of Law.
Attorneys representing former Governor Greitens filed complaints against Gardner’s law license shortly after the conclusion of the criminal case back in 2018.
Then-state representative Paul Curtman also filed a bar complaint, but recently told News 4 he had been informed his complaint was not moving forward. Allegations from the Greitens team claim Gardner had an ethical obligation to correct the record during a deposition of private investigator William Tisaby.
Gardner hired Tisaby who conducted interviews with the woman at the center of the invasion of privacy charge against Greitens.
Tisaby has since been charged with six counts of perjury and one count of tampering with evidence, after a special prosecutor found Tisaby had lied under oath.
But Gardner was with Tisaby in those instances and allegations indicated she had a professional responsibility to ensure that Tisaby’s statements were correct. She has claimed she was not representing Tisaby and therefore did not have to do so.
Attorney Alan Pratzel is the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the state and his office is the entity in charge of investigating complaints against lawyers in Missouri. It is an agency of the Missouri Supreme Court, funded by lawyers’ dues, not taxpayer funds, and is separate from The Missouri Bar.
“Complaints do happen,” said Peter Joy, Professor of Law at Washington University School of Law. He told News 4, on average, a lawyer may be the subject of three to five complaints. “If they investigate and find no basis for it, that’s the end of it,” Joy said of the disciplinary process in Missouri.
For example, in 2018, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel received 1,748 complaints and opened 685 formal investigations. Though disciplinary actions may be taken in another year, in 2018, investigations resulted in 16 lawyers being disbarred, 23 being suspended, and 92 receiving written admonitions, among other outcomes.
As for why it took so long for action, Joy says the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel often doesn’t want to interfere with elections (Gardner was re-elected in 2020) or any on-going criminal investigations. The special prosecutor investigating Tisaby had intimated Gardner herself could be subject to the criminal investigation, but sources tell News 4 that the statute of limitations for any charges on Gardner passed in March this year.
Either way, generally speaking, Joy says a lawyer never wants to have a complaint taken even one step further.
“I think it’s safe to say that lawyers uniformly don’t want to be in that position and you certainly don’t want to be in the position of losing your ability to have a livelihood as a lawyer, which would happen if you get a suspension or disbarred.” Joy said.