Given the lack of crime and corruption in Jackson County, County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker has been appointed “Special Prosecutor” to handle the “invasion of privacy” case first brought against Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens in St. Louis.
“No elected official relishes involvement in such difficult matters as an investigation of criminal wrongdoing by another official,” said Jackson County Prosecutor Baker, a Democrat, “but we also understand our duty.”
Baker added, “We will need to work as quickly as possible. We do not know what the result of the review will be. But let me stress that this review will be based solely on the evidence. Politics, affiliations or other matters beyond the evidence will not play a role.”
Greitens’ legal team had no response to this most recent decision by Judge Rex Burlison. Last week, however, defense attorney Scott Rosenblum cited the lack of evidence, specifically the failure of the prosecution to produce the alleged photo at the heart of the case.
The inability to produce evidence was the least of the problems inspiring St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to drop the case. More of an immediate threat for Gardner and her team was the real possibility that her chief investigator, William Tisaby, would be indicted for perjury.
Burlison agreed with the defense that Gardner could be called as a witness if the case goes to trial. Despite the change in prosecutors, she is still liable to be called by the defense and could still be sanctioned for her handling of the case.
The case is a mess in a hundred different ways. Baker has to move quickly. The statute of limitations on the invasion of privacy charge runs out on June 11. Gardner hoped to schedule the trial to begin the day before the November election. Burlison would not allow that. When the trial starts is anyone’s guess.
Given the legal and ethical challenges facing the current Jackson County executive, the former Jackson County executive, the Jackson County Sheriff and the congressman representing the fully Democratic Jackson County, one would have hoped that Burlison might have found a prosecutor with less to worry about than Baker.
Whatever Greitens did or did not do, he does not deserve this kind of judicial abuse.