The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday formally reprimanded St. Louis District Attorney Kim Gardner for misconduct during her 2018 invasion of privacy prosecution of then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.
In a decision signed by Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson, the high court found that Gardner violated rules of professional conduct when she failed to disclose her handwritten notes to a judge and did not correct an investigator who made inaccuracies under oath.
Gardner’s reprimand, the lowest form of punishment for a lawyer accused of professional misconduct, was expected. Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel recommended the punishment during Gardner’s disciplinary hearing in April. Gardner will have to pay a $750 court fee, but will not be suspended or lose her law license.
Gardner, an advocate for police reform and the first black woman to hold the role, won election to a second term as St. Louis district attorney in 2020. A former Democratic state lawmaker, she has repeatedly clashed with Republican politicians in Jefferson City during of her tenure as a lawyer.
The disciplinary case involves Gardner’s handling of the 2018 investigation and prosecution of Greitens, the former Republican governor who faced allegations that in 2015 he took a nude photo of a woman without her consent in an attempt to blackmail her into silence about a case, he forced her to perform oral sex and beat her.
At the heart of the case were five pages of handwritten notes Gardner took while interviewing a woman who said she had an affair with Greitens. Gardner said she mistakenly did not turn those notes over to Greitens’ lawyers. In a joint settlement reached with Pratzler’s office in April, Gardner admitted that she should have been more careful in gathering evidence in the Greitens case and should have immediately disclosed all her notes for review by a judge.
The ruling against Gardner came less than a month after Greitens lost the Republican primary for Missouri’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Greitens heavily promoted news coverage of Gardner’s disciplinary case during the campaign. His campaign manager did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Greitens was charged with felony invasion of privacy in the 2018 case. But Gardner dropped the case a day before trial after Greitens’ lawyers accused Gardner and her lead investigator of withholding notes from an interview with the alleged victim of Greitens.
William Tisaby, the former FBI agent Gardner hired to investigate Greitens, pleaded guilty in March to tampering with information related to the prosecution.
Gardner dropped the invasion of privacy case against Greitens in order to avoid testifying under oath about the allegations against Tisaby. Weeks later, he dropped an unrelated felony computer tampering case against Greitens as part of a deal that required Greitens to step down from office.
During his Senate campaign, Greitens faced new allegations from his ex-wife Sheena Greitens that he abused her and their children.
The abuse allegations were filed in court during the former Missouri couple’s child custody dispute, where Sheena Greitens is seeking to move the case to Texas.