The invasion of privacy case against Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was dismissed Monday.
The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office dropped the case because it wants a special prosecutor to try the case.
The case was dropped on the third day of jury selection.
The state plans to refile the case, though it's unclear if that can happen due to the statute of limitations. If the case is refiled, Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner could be called to the stand by the defense.
Judge Rex Burlison granted a request from Greitens' defense team to call Gardner as a witness.
Governor Greitens addressed the media outside the courthouse Monday afternoon, denouncing the "false charges" levied against him. The governor described the dismissal as a "great victory."
“Today, the prosecutor dropped the false charges against me. This was a great victory and a long time coming. I've said from the beginning that I am innocent. This experience has also been humbling, and I've emerged from it a changed man.
I believe that in all of our lives, we have to deal with pain, and that if we deal with it in the right way, we can learn wisdom. We all have to deal with suffering, but if we deal with it in the right way, we can emerge with strength. I also believe, as many people of faith do, that even in the hardest situations, we can find blessings.
Above all, I am sorry for the pain that this process and my actions have caused my family, my friends, and the people of Missouri. I am extraordinarily grateful for the tremendous patience and courage of friends, family, and people of faith, who have all recognized that in time comes the truth. We have a great mission before us. And at this time, I'd ask people of goodwill to come together so that we may continue to do good together.”
The Circuit Attorney's Office released the following statement after the charges were dropped:
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 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.
Statement from the GOP House Leadership:
"JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – House Speaker Todd Richardson, House Speaker Pro Tem Elijah Haahr, and House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo issued the following statement:
'The legislature is a separate and a co-equal branch of government with a separate responsibility entrusted to it by our Constitution. We owe it to Missourians to have a fair and thorough investigation of the facts. To date the committee’s work has not only provided two reports on the facts to the General Assembly but, more importantly, it has also exposed additional concerns relating to the governor’s conduct. This is why we remain committed to that process and await any recommendations it has for the House. Without the pending trial this week, it allows the Governor to take advantage of our open offer to share his side of the facts.'”
Senate leaders comment on recent developments on the charges against the Governor:
"JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri Senate Majority Caucus Leaders issued the following statement on the dismissal of charges against the governor today in St. Louis, Missouri.
'The dismissal of the felony invasion of privacy charge does not change the facts that have been revealed to the Missouri House of Representative’s Special Investigative Committee on Oversight. The House’s investigation and the Circuit Attorney’s case are two separate paths. The members of the House committee have discovered a disturbing pattern of allegations, most of which are completely separate from the case dismissed today. They need time to finish their investigation. We now hope the governor and his staff are more forthcoming with the facts, and they decide to appear before the special investigative committee. The governor has lost the moral authority and the ability to lead the state going forward, and we reaffirm our call that he resign immediately.'”
Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin District 32
Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City District 6