It will be up to a St. Louis judge to decide how long Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner has to produce records sought by a journalist considered an ally by former Gov. Eric Greitens.
The Missouri Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to hear a last-ditch appeal by Gardner of an order giving her 30 days to deliver records sought by John Solomon, editor-in-chief of the conservative Just the News website, in a 2019 Sunshine Law request.
The court refused to review a Jan. 25 decision by the Eastern District Court of Appeals, and on Thursday the appeals court formally delivered its decision to Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh.
“My expectation is that he will give the other side at least 30 days to comply with the order, but he could shorten or lengthen that if he deems it appropriate,” attorney David Roland, who represents Solomon, wrote in an email to The Independent. “We are not required to file anything in particular to get the ball rolling once it is back in front of the trial court.”
On Twitter, Greitens wrote “We caught them” over a photo of Gardner and billionaire George Soros, and that she would have to turn over her communications with him and “Missouri political insiders related to her false case against Governor Eric Greitens.”
Gardner’s office was found to have purposefully violated the Sunshine Law by ignoring Solomon’s request and following that up by intentionally refusing to respond to the lawsuit seeking compliance with the law. McGraugh fined her $5,000 and ordered her to pay attorney fees.
It is not the only legal complication for Gardner’s office stemming from her the investigation of charges that Greitens sexually assaulted a woman in the basement of his St. Louis home in 2015 and threatened to make nude photos of her public if she revealed the encounter.
On Monday, Gardner goes before a three-member disciplinary hearing panel, which will recommend whether she should lose her law license — and her job as prosecutor — or face other discipline as a result of alleged misconduct during the Greitens probe.
But it hasn’t been shown that there are any communications with Soros or any of the other names on the list submitted by Solomon as part of his request.
Solomon asked for all records, starting the day Greitens took office and the date of the request in July 2019, of contacts between Gardner’s office and:
- Scott Faughn, the publisher of the Missouri Times who delivered bagfuls of cash to Al Watkins, the attorney who revealed the existence of recordings to back up allegations against Greitens
- Low-income housing developer Jeffrey E. Smith or his company, JES Holdings LLC;
- Former state Sen. Jeff Smith (no relation to Jeffrey E. Smith) or his advocacy group, The Missouri Workforce Housing Association
- Soros, his spokesman Michael Vachon or associated organizations Soros Fund Management, The Safety and Justice PAC and Open Society Foundation
- The woman who alleged Greitens assaulted her, her attorney, her former husband and two state lawmakers working on the impeachment inquiry.
Under McGraugh’s order, when the records are turned over, the only thing Solomon will get initially is a list, showing the type of record, the person in Gardner’s office who had the communication and which person named in the request is included. Gardner’s office is directed to state a privilege reason why any records should be redacted or withheld.
McGraugh will review the records and decide what, if anything, should be released.
“The mandate from the Court of Appeals instructed the trial court to do essentially what it had already ordered in the judgment,” Roland wrote. “We do hope and expect that the judge in St Louis City will simply reinstate his prior order, which would require them to produce the records within 30 days.”
This article by Rudi Keller is published by permission of The Missouri Independent.