Judge Michael Noble ruled on Thursday that St. Louis Circuit attorney Kim Gardner and Assistant circuit attorney Chris Desilets were in "indirect criminal" contempt of court for failing to appear at a trial in an armed-robbery case and the subsequent hearing.
Gardner's office, at the hearing held on Thursday afternoon, was asked to explain, in detail, why Gardner, or anyone from her office, shouldn't face jail time, a fine, or both, for contempt.
Desilets said that he is always late, as are all lawyers in this circuit, because they cannot be in two places at once. He added that "every lawyer in the circuit is late every day to a particular division, unless he is unemployed."
Noble began the hearing by noting Gardner’s absence and stating that she had sent Assistant Circuit Attorney Rob Huq to represent her.
"Isn't it fair to say that she's the captain of the boat?" Noble asked.
Noble said that Gardner's office "appears a rudderless vessel of chaos" as he concluded the hearing.
He added: "Ms. Gardner, the circuit attorney, is responsible for managing the caseloads of all staff members. Mr. Desilets is currently handling 104 felonies. A prudent lawyer would expect a large caseload to lead to countless conflicts. She does not seem to have taken any reasonable steps to avoid the chaos that has resulted. It seems that Ms. Gardner is completely indifferent and has a conscious disregard of the judicial system.
Gardner and Desilets are entitled to a fair trial and to a lawyer. A special prosecutor will oversee the indirect criminal case. The next hearing will be held at 9:30 am on May 30.
In court documents Judge Michael Noble stated that Desilets did not appear at both a jury hearing on April 10th and for a status meeting on Monday.
The judge found that there was enough evidence to prove Gardner and Desilet's indirect criminal contempt.
According to Noble's filing, " Chris Desilets did not appear at either appearance or file a motion for continuation." "Furthermore on the morning trial of April 10, Mr. Desilets claimed, through an Assistant Circuit Attorney, he had a health issue. The Court has not received any confirmation of any medical appointment or issue.
"Mr. Desilets also did not attend the status conference that was scheduled for April 24, at which he was to discuss his alleged health issues. The Circuit Attorney's Office and defense counsel have not provided any information to this Court regarding the matter.
The case involves the shooting death of an 11-year old girl in October 2020. Steven Linell Vincent Jr. (26), is accused of shooting multiple shots at a residence along North Garrison Avenue, in the JeffVanderLou neighborhood.