Gov. Mike Parson expanded his special legislative session call this week on violent crime to include giving the Missouri Attorney General the power to prosecute some St. Louis murder cases. He says out of 161 murders there so far this year, 33 suspects have been charged.
A group of 115 Missouri prosecutors is not on board with the governor’s bid to let the State Attorney General get involved in local cases. The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys says it has consistently fought for decades against proposals that would give the state attorney general that type of jurisdiction. In a press release, the group says the measures undermine the independence and autonomy of locally elected prosecutors.
“The best control is local control. Vesting the Attorney General with new original or concurrent jurisdiction erodes the ability of local voters to decide who will seek justice on their behalf should they be victimized by crime. Further, any attempt to vest the attorney general with jurisdiction to prosecute homicides without the request of the elected prosecuting attorney fundamentally changes our system of local, independent prosecution that has served the citizens of Missouri well since 1875,” the release says.
The organization says any prosecutors seeking help can reach out to the association and they will get the support they need.
“MAPA, through our individual members, stands ready to assist any fellow prosecutor. Our prosecutors routinely come to each other’s aid: assisting with cases; sharing resources; and ensuring that all Missourians receive effective prosecution services.”
Parson denies his expanded call being a personal move. Parson and Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both Republicans, have publicly disagreed with St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, a Democrat, for prosecuting an affluent couple who pointed guns at protesters walking through their neighborhood in June.
The Missouri House of Representatives is scheduled to get back to work Monday on the crime package.
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