For Immediate Release
Aug. 12, 2020
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker issued the following statement today regarding efforts by the Missouri Governor and Attorney General to win concurrent jurisdiction in St. Louis City
This is not new. It is not a new concept and one that local prosecutors have had to fight against for generations. The notion, called concurrent jurisdiction, was promoted by the Governor and an inexperienced Attorney General to be the trusted savior for the City of St. Louis. This time, however, it smacked of politics as the source of the inspiration, rather than the usual arrogance and overstated belief in their capacity and skills. The Attorney General wants us to believe he has some special powers where he has no trust with the community, no relationship with the police or judiciary and no relationship with the local prosecutor (since he never spoke with her). No, this suggests something else is afoot and that something else is not seeking to benefit the citizens of St. Louis City. In fact, I believe it will hurt them.
During my years working as an assistant prosecutor and now the elected prosecutor, I can recall other times when this issue has come up. Each time it was soundly defeated because all locally elected prosecutors, Republicans and Democrats alike, urban, rural and suburban, banded together in order to defeat this dangerous concept. The reason we band together is pretty simple. Concurrent jurisdiction interjects politics into our system. While each locally elected prosecutor must choose a political party, that is not the kind of politics that comes to play with concurrent jurisdiction. This type of politics is personal. It’s a political ploy revealed in St. Louis violence numbers. St. Louis City has had 163 murders so far in 2020, however, only 44 suspects were arrested. Kim Gardner has filed 34 of those 44 cases so far. One should not presume that the other 10 murder cases will never be filed. It is not uncommon for a prosecutor to ask for additional work to be done on a case in order to get to proof beyond a reasonable doubt and to be sure we are getting it right. That’s how it works.
The Attorney General has no special magical powers to help build more evidence for police In fact, his powers are far diminished in a jurisdiction where he is not seen at community meetings and community members can’t call his personal cell phone. But that is what Kim Gardner currently offers her community. I would hope that the Attorney General’s Office would offer St. Louis City support under the long-standing roles in place for over a century. No new special law is needed. The Attorney General simply could pick up the phone, call Ms. Gardner and ask, “how can I help you?”
For more information, contact:
Director of Communication
Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office
Jean Peters Baker, Prosecutor
Work : (816) 881-3812
Mobile: (816) 674-3954
*Charges are only accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until the defendant is either found guilty or has pleaded.