ST. LOUIS – During his first full-day in office as the city’s top prosecutor, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gabe Gore explained why he wanted to take the job and his priorities moving forward.
Gore said during his interview with Governor Mike Parson, the governor didn’t ask about politics, instead he wanted to know how he was going to get the circuit attorney’s office back on track.
“I will say that we have our work cut out for us,” Gore said. “It’s going to be a challenge. Failure is not an option.”
With a backlog of thousands of cases, many of which are violent, the newly-appointed circuit attorney has his hands full.
“Within an hour of being sworn in, I assigned someone to specifically conduct a detailed assessment of where the warrant office is and provide me a report of that,” Gore said. “We’re in the process of doing that right now, so I can’t speak to it.”
Last week, in an exclusive interview, Parson said his legal counsel, Evan Rodrigeuz, who was serving as interim circuit attorney, found 4,800 warrant application that had been reviewed. The governor said at least 1,000 of those were Class A and B felonies.
Gore took the oath of office on Tuesday, surrounded by his family, friends, and local and state officials. His swearing in comes two weeks after Kim Gardner abruptly resigned. Gore said he was surprised by her resignation, but she wasn’t getting the job done.
“I thought the circuit attorney’s office was ceasing to play its critical role in the criminal justice system and that is not sustainable,” Gore said.
The former federal prosecutor and partner at the law firm Dowd and Bennett lives and works and has raised his family in St. Louis, all reasons why Parson said he appointed him.
Gore has more than 23 years of experience in private law practice and is described as an “experienced trail lawyer who concentrates on complex civil litigation and white-collar defense,” according to the law firm’s website.
He said his top priorities will be building a staff of qualified attorneys and professionals, plus building strong relationships between the St. Louis community, his office, and other regional and state officials.
He said his first priority is hiring attorneys, because the circuit attorney’s office currently has roughly 40 vacant positions.
“The attorneys who started their practice of law in this office and have gone on to other things, and those attorneys, some of whom left while Kim Gardner was circuit attorney, they have a very high level of devotion and belief in this office,” Gore said. “A lot of those prosecutors are eager to come back and help and rebuild the office to what it was when they worked here and make it even better. I really do think the experienced prosecutors out there who are so devoted to the circuit attorney’s office are going to be a key part of our restaffing effort and they already have been.”
Just after being sworn in on Tuesday, Gore re-hired Marvin Teer as the chief trial council. Gore said Teer is already addressing cases on the docket. Teer left earlier this year after working nearly two years under Gardner.
Gore does not plan on keeping Gardner’s exclusion list, which was made up of dozens of city police officers who were not allowed to bring cases to her office.
“We’re moving forward by looking at the facts of each case, looking at the law, and making determinations as to what we can go into a court of law and prove,” Gore said.
During the transition process while Rodriguez was interim circuit attorney, the office received help from the attorney general’s office.
“A number of them are still here this week,” Gore said. “We would like their assistance for as long as we can get it. They have helped stabilize things.”
Gore said he spoke with St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell, who also agreed to send some help to the circuit attorney’s office by the end of this week.
When asked if he was considering running for election next November, Gore said it’s not even on his mind right now.
“I’m not considering that at all at this point,” Gore said. “I’m literally spending every waking moment and, sleeping moments too, thinking about all the issues we have to address at this office.”
In an interview last week, Parson said he would support Gore if considered running for the office.
Gore said he’s ready to pick up the pieces and return the law and order to the circuit attorney’s office.
“Our office is going to aggressively prosecute people who commit violent crime,” Gore said. “The reason you do that is to get people who are committing violent crimes off the street, so they are not able to do it to other citizens. That’s going to be our focus.”
Any victim wondering about the status of their case is encouraged to call the office at 314-622-4373.
Before working at Dowd Bennet, Gore also served as a member of the Office of Special Counsel John C. Danforth’s Waco investigation from 1999 to 2000. He also has experience as an assistant U.S. Attorney, where we tried federal prosecutions through a drug task force. He also served as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Missouri State University in 1991, where he was a track and cross-country athlete for several years. He later earned his law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he was once taught by the future president, Barack Obama.