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Appeals court delays order requiring Circuit Attorney's office to comply with search warrant

Appeals court delays order requiring Circuit Attorney's office to comply with search warrant

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ST. LOUIS • A St. Louis judge Tuesday ordered the circuit attorney’s office to comply with a grand jury search warrant seeking electronic data on the office servers.

Circuit Judge Michael Mullen denied a motion by the office of Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner to quash a Feb. 21 search warrant that is part of a grand jury investigation into alleged perjury by a former FBI agent hired last year to investigate ex-Gov. Eric Greitens.

“The court finds that the scope of the search warrant is appropriately limited and the information sought comes within the scope of the authority granted to the special prosecutor,” the ruling said.

Gardner’s office Tuesday appealed both Mullen’s ruling and gag order claiming Mullen abused his power by issuing “erroneous decisions that now threaten to allow the raid and seizure of massive amounts of confidential and irrelevant” data on the circuit attorney’s office’s servers. The Eastern District Court of Appeals issued a preliminary order halting execution of the search warrant until further notice, giving Mullen until March 22 to respond. The court denied the appeal of the gag order.

Last week, the judge accused Gardner’s office of “playing games” with the grand jury investigation by attempting to block the search warrant.

Rachel Smith, Gardner’s chief trial assistant, last week told Mullen that the office was working to cooperate but argued the search warrant was overly burdensome, unconstitutionally broad, undermined Gardner’s authority and put the safety and private information of St. Louisans at risk.

A spokeswoman for Gardner said she would see whether she could respond to the judge’s order. Mullen issued his gag order last week upon learning that Gardner’s office had released its motion to block the search warrant to the media.

Gardner was scheduled to testify before the grand jury this week. It is not clear if she is considered a target of the investigation or being called only as a witness.

The special grand jury convened in January to investigate perjury claims against private investigator William Don Tisaby and possibly related crimes. Mullen appointed special prosecutor Gerard “Jerry” Carmody and his firm to lead the investigation last year.

Gardner dismissed the invasion of privacy charge against Greitens in May during jury selection for his trial after the judge ruled she could be questioned under oath about Tisaby.

The search warrant in question sought “any and all stored electronic email communications and files” on the servers of the Circuit Attorney’s office between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2018.

The circuit attorney’s office said that the office had already complied with a January search warrant for emails to and from Tisaby.

Gardner’s appeal of Mullen’s gag order denies that Gardner ever suborned perjury by allowing Tisaby to lie in sworn depositions; Gardner also says “there does not appear to be such a crime” of suborning perjury in Missouri.

Greitens was indicted in February 2018 on a charge that he took a photo of a partly nude woman without her consent.

Post-Dispatch coverage of Greitens' affair scandal

From Greitens' initial statement to calls for his resignation, read the Post-Dispatch coverage of the governor's affair scandal.

For coverage of the Confide app, campaign issues and The Mission Continues fundraising, go here.