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Former employee describes circuit attorney’s office as ‘mismanaged’

ST. LOUIS - With the Greitens case over invasion of privacy having fallen apart, it opened the door for other complaints against the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. A former lawyer in the office tells Fox 2/KPLR 11 that his time working there was unpleasant.

Jeffrey Ernst said he worked at the circuit attorney’s office for 11 years but left after just one year working under Kim Gardner. He said the office was disorganized under Gardner’s tenure and described her as a “micromanager.”

“People were very excited in the beginning for Ms. Gardner to take over,” Ernst said.

But he said that mentality quickly went away.

“Over the course of last year, we lost nearly 40 lawyers in that office, several of which whom she had hired,” Ernst said.

Ernst alleges there was plenty of mismanagement.

“People felt that Ms. Gardner didn’t trust any of the other attorneys in the office and people didn’t feel appreciated, and that’s why you lost career prosecutors,” he said.

Ernst said that kind of practice explains the latest and final outcome of governor Eric Greitens’ case, which Gardner’s office was prosecuting.

“They clearly had not dotted their I’s, crossed their T’s,” he said. “Where’s the photograph? I mean. what prosecutor wouldn’t want to take the time and investigate to see if that photograph existed.”

Ernst said Gardner handled the case hastily and irresponsibly.

“Ms. Gardner has never had a case like this before and was up against the clock on the statute of limitations and felt they had to act now versus taking a deep breath and making sure they had the evidence to corroborate what they wanted their victim to put forth,” he said.

Ernst now runs his own practice.

Fox 2/KPLR 11 reached out to Gardner for a response but have not heard back yet.

Statement from the City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office:

The continued theatrics from Governor Greitens and his defense team today should surprise no one.

I knew when I began investigating the Governor that his high-priced defense team would use whatever means possible to attack my team and me in court and through the media.  How did I know?  Twice Governor Greitens' team of attorneys came to my office and threatened my staff and me with the continued barrage of insults and accusations if we continued to pursue charges against the Governor.

As Circuit Attorney, I am responsible for following the evidence to seek the truth, wherever it may lead.  Sometimes the evidence leads us to hold public officials and powerful people accountable under the law, and that makes them uncomfortable. Often times, powerful people use whatever financial means available to stop prosecutors from seeking the truth.  This is not the first time (nor will it be the last) in American history when an elected official was under investigation and they attacked the investigation itself to redirect the focus from their client to something else.

What is happening here in Missouri also mirrors what is happening on a national level.  Thankfully, the elected officials in Missouri have the courage to stand up for truth and for what is right, regardless of how messy things can get.

The actions by the defense team today do not concern me. There is not one shred of evidence that any action by Mr. Tisaby was illegal or materially impacted any evidence in this crime. There is also no evidence that Mr. Tisaby was anything other than mistaken or confused during his deposition when he answered the questions improperly.

Just as Governor Greitens did not want anyone to conclude that he was guilty if he refused to take the stand during the trial, Mr. Tisaby's reluctance to answer questions during his second deposition was merely due to the fact he had not been given the opportunity to review his previous deposition, which all witnesses are legally allowed to do.