JEFFERSON CITY — The association representing Missouri’s county prosecutors on Wednesday came out against Gov. Mike Parson’s plan to strip autonomy from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner.
Though the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys doesn’t mention Parson or Gardner by name, a statement the group issued takes aim at Parson’s proposal that would allow the attorney general to intervene in St. Louis homicide cases.
The association’s opposition is another hurdle for Parson to overcome as he tries to negotiate a package of anti-crime legislation ahead of the November election. Republican House leaders postponed debate on Tuesday, citing a need to vet Parson’s proposals individually during the special legislative session he called.
“Holding true to the position we as an association have held for decades, the 115 independent, locally elected prosecuting attorneys of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (MAPA) stand united against any proposal to vest any new original or concurrent jurisdiction with the Attorney General,” said a statement signed by the association’s executive board.
“The best control is local control,” the statement said. “Vesting the Attorney General with new original or concurrent jurisdiction erodes the ability of local voters to decide who will seek justice on their behalf should they be victimized by crime.
“Further, any attempt to vest the attorney general with jurisdiction to prosecute homicides without the request of the elected prosecuting attorney fundamentally changes our system of local, independent prosecution that has served the citizens of Missouri well since 1875.”
The statement also said the association, “through our individual members, stands ready to assist any fellow prosecutor. Our prosecutors routinely come to each other’s aid: assisting with cases; sharing resources; and ensuring that all Missourians receive effective prosecution services.”
The association’s executive board voted unanimously to issue a statement opposing the move, said Timothy Lohmar, St. Charles County prosecutor and president of MAPA.
The executive board includes Lohmar, a Republican; Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson, a Republican; Daviess County Prosecuting Attorney Annie Gibson, a Democrat; Johnson County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Russell, a Republican; Christian County Prosecuting Attorney Amy Fite, a Republican; Jackson County Prosecuting Attorney Jean Peters Baker, a Democrat; and Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver, a Republican.
The majority of Missouri’s prosecuting attorneys are Republicans, according to the state’s most recent manual. Gardner is a Democrat.