Gore marks six months as St. Louis circuit attorney, says 45% more cases filed
When Gabe Gore took the oath of office as the St. Louis circuit attorney in May, he knew failure was not an option.
His predecessor, Kim Gardner, had resigned during an effort by Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey to oust her from an office in turmoil. Fewer than 10 attorneys were handling violent crimes, and a judge had moved to hold Gardner in contempt because assistant circuit attorneys did not show up for court.
“I report to you today that our office has really taken its place in the criminal justice system,” Gore said Tuesday as he marked six months in office. “We are playing that role.”
Since taking over, Gore said, he has nearly doubled the number of attorneys in the office, from 25 to 49. He’s used partnerships with the U.S. attorney’s office, private law firms and other prosecuting attorneys to reduce a backlog in homicide prosecutions and in the number of cases awaiting decisions on charges.
“When I accepted this call to public service, my No. 1 question about how we would perform was who would join me in answering this call to public service,” Gore said. “The response to that question has been humbling and overwhelming.”
Gore expects to rely on that outside help for a bit longer. His budget for the current year includes spots for 53 attorneys; Gore thinks he needs “north of 60 attorneys to meet our obligations.” There are still 4,200 cases awaiting warrants and about 200 pending homicide prosecutions.
But while work remains from the previous administration, Gore said, his office has continued to move forward as well. The number of cases filed between June 1 and Dec. 1 is up 45% compared to the same time last year, in part because Gore said his office “does not accept the notion that, as a citizen of the City of St. Louis, you have to accept a certain amount of property crime, or what people would refer to as petty crime, as a cost of living in a city.”
But even though Gore’s office is charging more people, it's not asking for stiff pretrial detention. Data from the Freedom Community Center show that prosecutors asked for no bond in 77% of the more than 2,000 detention hearings they observed between May 30 and Nov. 30. That compared to 86% of the hearings the group observed between January and early May.
Gore said he also plans to boost the number of people directed to diversion programs to as many as 400 participants. Though Gardner touted her commitment to the practice, Gore said there were fewer than 40 people enrolled.
Jay Schroeder, president of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, said things seemed to be heading in the right direction with Gore at the helm.
“This was a tremendous mess that Mr. Gore took over, and with the help of the Attorney General Andrew Bailey and his staff pitching in to help also, we see nothing but progress moving forward,” Schroeder said.
While Gore emphasized the future of the office on Tuesday, he said he has not yet decided whether he’ll run for a full term as circuit attorney next year.
"I have enjoyed this work immensely. I've enjoyed my colleagues, I've enjoyed the progress we've made. I am very pleased with the trajectory the office is on,” he said. “And the final part of my decision process is just trying to make the decision as to whether or not I want to be a political candidate.”
Filing for the August 2024 primary ends in March. Local attorney David Mueller has already announced his candidacy. State records show he has raised about $25,000 since April.