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Judge rules St. Louis prosecutor must release records in bungled prosecution of ex-governor

Circuit attorney has ignored open records request for over a year concerning records in bungled prosecution against former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens.

Published: July 28, 2020 2:03pm

Updated: July 28, 2020 11:39pm

A judge has ordered the chief prosecutor for St. Louis to release records from the bungled prosecution of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens following a yearlong fight to obtain those records through a state sunshine law request. 

The sunshine request, brought by Just the News founder John Solomon, was presented to St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardener last July. The query sought the release of roughly two and a half years' worth of communications between Gardner, her staff, and numerous individuals such as George Soros, the Missouri Workforce Housing Association, state Representatives Stacy Newman and Jay Barnes, and others.

Gardner first ignored the request and then claimed that the requested documents were exempt from the state's sunshine provision. 

Solomon's legal team, from the Southeastern Legal Foundation and the Freedom Center of Missouri, said in a filing in April that those decisions by Gardner's office were knowing violations of Missouri's sunshine law. In that filing they asked for the release of the documents and for the awarding of several thousand dollars' worth of damages pursuant to state statute. 

Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh ruled in Solomon's favor on Monday. The circuit attorney's office has signaled it will appeal the order. 

Gardner "had no excuse for refusing to respond to Mr. Solomon's lawsuit, just as she had no excuse for refusing to produce the open public records he requested more than a year ago," Freedom Center of Missouri Attorney Dave Roland said Tuesday.

"We applaud Judge McGraugh for granting judgment in Mr. Solomon's favor due to the Circuit Attorney's reckless, dilatory, and intentional choice to flout the law," he added. 

Gardner's office is "responsible not only for knowing the law, but for making sure it is applied fairly and properly," said SLF General Counsel Kimberly Hermann. "It is unconscionable that a prosecuting attorney would directly disobey not only the Sunshine Law, but also a direct court order."

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