Who will prosecute Missouri criminal defendant Mark McCloskey? Not St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner or her office. A judge on Thursday ruled that there was the appearance of impropriety after Gardner’s campaign fundraised off of the controversy over McCloskey and wife Patricia McCloskey pointing their guns at protesters passing by their home in June.
“The campaign emails demonstrate the Circuit Attorney’s personal interest in this case, raise the appearance of impropriety and jeopardize the Defendant’s right to a fair trial,” Missouri Circuit Court Judge Thomas Clark II wrote. “Among other previously described concerns, these email solicitations aim to raise money using the Defendant and the circumstances surrounding the case to rally Ms. Gardner’s political base and fuel contributions. While the collateral consequence of the emails may have been inadvertent or unintentional, ‘intention’ is not a factor under the legal standard. The legal standard only requires that the court conclude that the conduct appears inappropriate.”
The McCloskeys, who are local attorneys, infamously pointed guns at protesters demonstrating against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson (D), who doxxed people who wanted to defund the police department. The defendants said that the people were trespassing on a private street. The couple maintained they feared for their safety. This incident quickly attracted political controversy. Supporters said the McCloskeys were just defending themselves. Critics said the couple were in danger of shooting peaceful protesters.
As indicated in the ruling, Gardner fundraised off the incident. From a July 17 email, just a few days before the McCloskeys were charged:
You might be familiar with the story of the couple who brandished guns during a peaceful protest outside of their mansion … Instead of fighting for the millions of Americans affected by the pandemic–including 31 thousand Missourians–President Trump and the Governor are fighting for the two who pointed guns at peaceful citizens during the Black Lives Matter protests.
The couple is charged with unlawful use of a weapon, and tampering with physical evidence.
To be clear, the ruling only affects Mark McCloskey, but he said that they plan on asking the same for his co-defendant wife.
“The Circuit Court has disqualified Kim Gardner and the entire St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office from the case against me,” he wrote Thursday on Twitter. “We will ask the Judge in Patty’s case to do the same!”
In any case, a status conference is set for January 7, 2021. According to the ruling, the presiding judge of the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit will appoint a special prosecutor.
Statement from Circuit Attorney Office, City of St. Louis
Today the media reported on a judge’s ruling on the Mark McCloskey case prior to any official notification. We will review the court order and determine our options. pic.twitter.com/drVK9EjJI1
— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) December 10, 2020
“We will review the court order and determine our options,” Gardner’s office wrote Thursday.
The McCloskeys, their lawyers, and their allies have long argued that the prosecution Gardner brought was political.
[Screengrab via Mark McCloskey]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]