Monday, May 14, 2018

Charges Dropped Against Greitens, Prosecutor Vows to Refile and Refine Case

Posted By on Mon, May 14, 2018 at 5:03 PM

click to enlarge Governor Eric Greitens - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Governor Eric Greitens
Prosecutors dropped a bombshell this afternoon after three days of jury selection in the invasion of privacy case against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, dismissing charges just days before it was set to go to trial.

The announcement was made just before 5 p.m. after prosecutors and defense attorneys met in the chambers of Judge Rex Burlison. Prosecutors say they now intend to hire a special prosecutor.

The decision apparently follows a series of motions filed under seal, made by defense attorneys seeking to call Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner as a witness.

In a statement, Gardner acknowledged that Judge Burlison had recently granted the request — necessitating her office's decision to drop the case.

"When the court and the defense team put the state in the impossible position of choosing between her professional obligations and the pursuit of justice, the Circuit Attorney will always choose the pursuit of justice," she said in a statement. "The court’s order leaves the Circuit Attorney no adequate means of proceeding with this trial. Therefore, the court has left the Circuit Attorney with no other legal option than to dismiss and refile this matter."

Gardner's complete statement reads as follows:
Since January, Governor Greitens and his defense team have taken a scorched-earth legal and media strategy and relentlessly attacked the intentions, character and integrity of every person involved in investigating the Governor’s behavior including Missouri House Committee members, the Attorney General, the Circuit Attorney and her team, his victim, her family and those who have called for his resignation. On February 22, 2018, a Grand Jury indicted Governor Greitens on Felony Invasion of Privacy. The Circuit Attorney has done everything in her power to remain focused on the facts and the truth of this matter. The Circuit Attorney and her team are ready, willing and able to go to trial this week on behalf of the people of the state of Missouri and Mr. Greitens’ victim.

Last week, Governor Greitens made a motion to include the Circuit Attorney as a defense witness. A defendant who wishes to call a prosecutor as a witness must demonstrate a compelling and legitimate reason to do so. Governor Greitens has produced no compelling reason to include the Circuit Attorney as a witness for any purpose. The defense team knows that the tactic of endorsing the Circuit Attorney as a witness is part of their ongoing effort to distract people from the defendant’s actions that brought about both the felony Invasion of Privacy and Computer Tampering charges against him.

22nd Circuit Judge Rex Burlison made an unpreceded [sic] decision by granting a request by Governor Greitens’ defense team to endorse the Circuit Attorney as a witness for the defense. The court’s order places the Circuit Attorney in the impossible position of being a witness, subject to cross-examination within the offer of proof by her own subordinates.

While the court has other remedies, such as calling the private attorney of K.S. as a witness, it has chosen not to do so. When the court and the defense team put the state in the impossible position of choosing between her professional obligations and the pursuit of justice, the Circuit Attorney will always choose the pursuit of justice. The court’s order leaves the Circuit Attorney no adequate means of proceeding with this trial. Therefore, the court has left the Circuit Attorney with no other legal option than to dismiss and refile this matter.

The Circuit Attorney and her team will research the best step forward for this case in light of the court’s ruling. The Circuit Attorney will be make a decision to either pursue a special prosecutor or make an appointment of one of her assistants to proceed.
But Scott Rosenblum, one of Greitens' attorneys, was defiant — and insisted the charges will never be refiled.

"What we've seen in this case by the Circuit Attorney's Office, I can tell you, makes me fearful as to what's going on with other defendants that may not have the wherewithal to show what's going on," he said.

Earlier today, prosecutors conceded that they had failed to find evidence of a photo of the victim on Greitens' smartphone — a critical piece of evidence since the single felony count against Greitens in this case rests on an allegation that he photographed a woman in a state of partial nudity without her consent.

But it had long been known that prosecutors did not have the photo in their possession. They had planned to build their case on the woman's testimony. She has told a House committee investigating Greitens that she was blindfolded, but saw a flash and heard a noise like that made by a smartphone taking a photo.

"There was no evidence of a photo, no evidence of a deletion, but that continued to fall upon deaf ears for this prosecuting attorney's office," Rosenblum told reporters after court.

Jim Bennett, another defense attorney, said Judge Burlison's decision to allow Gardner to be a witness would soon be unsealed. He noted that it had been confirmed by the Court of Appeals earlier today.

"The Circuit Attorney's Office attacks on Judge Burlison are completely irresponsible," Rosenblum said.

Of the prosecutors' office, he added, "If they're on the side of justice, that is frightening for everyone in the city."

Greitens continues to face a separate criminal case in St. Louis Circuit Court for felony computer tampering.

We'll have more on this story as it develops.

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