UPDATED at 9:45 a.m. Friday with a second petition by St. Louis circuit attorney to the Missouri Supreme Court.
ST. LOUIS — One day after a judge appointed a former U.S. attorney as special prosecutor in a Central West End couple's armed confrontation with racial justice protesters last summer, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner asked the state's highest court to restore her authority over the case.
Gardner's office on Thursday filed two petitions with the Missouri Supreme Court seeking to block orders by St. Louis judges disqualifying her and her office from prosecuting the case.
Mark McCloskey, 64, and his wife Patricia, 61, each pleaded not guilty in October to charges of unlawful use of a weapon and evidence tampering. The couple sought and won a judge's order removing Gardner and finding that she created an appearance of impropriety by mentioning the McCloskey investigation in fundraising emails ahead of August's Democratic primary for circuit attorney.
A spokeswoman for Gardner did not respond to a request for an explanation on the timing of the petition, which came a day after former U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan was appointed to prosecute the case.
One of Gardner's petitions asks Missouri's high court to suspend the prosecution of the McCloskeys and also claims Circuit Judge Thom Clark should have recused himself because he issued his ruling while simultaneously applying to and winning Gov. Mike Parson's appointment to the Missouri Court of Appeals at St. Louis. Clark declined comment Thursday.
A second petition filed with the Supreme Court late Thursday night seeks a stay of Circuit Judge Michael Stelzer's order applying Clark's order to Patricia McCloskey's case.
Joel Schwartz, lawyer for Mark and Patricia McCloskey, provides reporters a summary of his argument seeking to disqualify Circuit Attnorney Kim Gardner from prosecuting the gun and evidence tampering charges against the St. Louis couple. pic.twitter.com/o9l5eVfeoe— Joel Currier (@joelcurrier) October 28, 2020
1/ Regarding today’s hearing on Patricia and Mark McCloskey’s motion to disqualify the CAO and office.— Circuit Attorney (@stlcao) October 28, 2020
Statement from Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner
It is extraordinarily rare for the Court to order the disqualification of the elected prosecutor's entire office. pic.twitter.com/Bhi5P2ckD5