Gardner seeks communications between judge, attorney

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner wants to know what Judge Michael Noble and attorney Booker Shaw discussed.

st. LOUIS — St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s attorneys want to know what Judge Michael Noble talked about with an attorney before and after a hearing in which Noble moved ahead with a contempt hearing against Gardner and a former member of her office.

In a motion filed Friday, Gardner’s attorney Michael Downey accused Noble of communicating with Booker T. Shaw of the Thompson Coburn law firm before and after the April 27 hearing, and asked Noble to disclose all of his communications with Shaw.

Shaw is representing the judges of the 22nd Judicial Circuit in the Missouri Attorney General’s lawsuit to remove Gardner from office.

Downey argues the Missouri Supreme Court “generally prohibits a court from engaging in ex parte communications, including with lawyers or experts not involved in a case.”

“No one provided any advance notice of any discussions that might occur between the Court and Mr. Shaw regarding the Order to Show Cause proceeding,” Downey wrote. “Ms. Gardner has not received notice regarding the subject or contents of any such consultations, if they occurred.

“Ms. Gardner also has not consented for the court to consult with Mr. Shaw (or anyone else) ex parte regarding this matter. That the apparent consultations were both before and after a proceeding against Ms. Gardner, by a lawyer from a firm that sometimes handles matters adverse to the Circuit Attorney’s Office and who is currently counsel of record and participating in a court proceeding seeking to remove Ms. Gardner from office, raises particular concerns whether a violation of Canon 2-2.9 occurred and whether such violation creates an appearance of impropriety.”

Downey asked that Noble provide the communications no later than Friday.

A spokesman for the 22nd Judicial Circuit declined to comment on the matter because it involved pending litigation and a criminal investigation.

On Thursday, Noble determined during a hearing that there was enough evidence to proceed with a contempt hearing against Gardner and former Assistant Circuit Attorney Chris Desilets.

Noble convened the hearing after Desilets did not show up for a trial on April 10 and also missed a hearing on the matter April 24.

Desilets told Noble he was late for the April 24 hearing because he had other cases to handle in other courtrooms. Noble acknowledged Desilets had 104 cases assigned to him alone, making it impossible for him to operate without multiple scheduling conflicts.

He then accused Gardner of not doing anything to lessen the workload that made it impossible for her prosecutors to adequately oversee cases.

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