Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the gun-toting couple from St. Louis, Missouri who made headlines earlier this year when they armed themselves to defend their home from Black Lives Matter protesters, got some good news this week when a judge removed the prosecutor from their case.
McCloskeys Get Good News
Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II ruled that fundraising emails by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s campaign were improper and infringed on the McCloskeys’ right to a fair trial. The judge said that these fundraising emails “raise the appearance of impropriety and jeopardize the defendant’s right to a fair trial.”
“Like a needle pulling thread, she links the defendant and his conduct to her critics,” Clark wrote in the ruling, which was 22 pages, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “These emails are tailored to use the June 28 incident to solicit money by positioning her against defendant and her more vocal critics.”
“This is a high-profile case, receiving extensive media coverage, eliminating any possibility that any assistant circuit attorney is unaware of Ms. Gardner’s incipient interest, initial involvement and advocacy on this matter,” the judge added.
“In short, she identifies her critics, links them to (Mark McCloskey), requests the campaign contribution to fight back and forewarns criminal prosecution by holding defendant ‘accountable,'” Clark continued. “To a reasonable person, this language forecasts prosecutorial action.”
Gardner Fights Back
Gardner, a proud Democrat, had tried to defend herself by claiming that the emails were used to protect herself from rightwing politicians and media. She alleged that she was under “national scrutiny from our divisive President, the Republican establishment of Missouri, and the right-wing media, including Fox News,” according to NPR.
Clark, however, was not having any of it.
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“Ms. Gardner has every right to rebut criticism, but it appears unnecessary to stigmatize defendant — or even mention him — in campaign solicitations, especially when she purports to be responding to others,” he said. “In fact, the case law and Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit it.”
This is a huge win for the McCloskeys, as Gardner has had it out for them from the very beginning of this scandal. It was Gardner who hit the McCloskeys with gun charges after they armed themselves while Black Lives Matter rioters marched on their home. Clark ruled that Garner’s fundraising emails indicate that she “initiated a criminal prosecution for political purposes.”
Joel Schwartz, an attorney representing the couple, filed a motion back in July to dismiss Gardner from the case after the fundraising emails first came to light.
“The July 17th email drew a direct line from the incident, which had not yet resulted in criminal charges, to Ms. Gardner’s political antagonists and from there to a call for donations to further her re-election efforts,” said Schwartz. “It implied that the defendant was among those ‘perpetuating a system of systemic racism and police brutality.'”
Two months ago, the McCloskeys were indicted on felony charges of unlawful use of weapons and tampering with physical evidence. They have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.
This piece was written by James Samson on December 12, 2020. It originally appeared in LifeZette and is used by permission.
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