Missouri prosecutors oppose expanding attorney general power

Associated Press
FILE - Missouri Gov. Mike Parson speaks during a news conference Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020, in St. Louis. A proposal by the Republican governor to give the attorney general the power to prosecute murders in St. Louis is spurring backlash. Parson's directive was widely seen as criticism of St. Louis' first Black prosecutor, Kim Gardner. Parson has said the goal is to help combat a surge in violent crime. Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King says Republicans are trying to undermine Gardner.

COLUMBIA — Missouri prosecutors on Wednesday came out against Republican Gov. Mike Parson's proposal to give the state attorney general the power to prosecute St. Louis homicides. 

Leaders of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in a statement wrote that prosecutors "stand united against any proposal to vest any new original or concurrent jurisdiction with the Attorney General."

"The best control is local control," they wrote in the statement. "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."

Parson this week asked lawmakers to make the change during their ongoing special session on crime.

He said the intent was to curb a surge in violent crime, but the move was widely seen as a rebuke of Democratic St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. 

Missouri's attorney general currently has limited authority to prosecute crimes, a duty that is in large part left to local prosecutors. Local prosecutors can ask the Attorney General's Office for help if needed. 

Many of the other proposals being debated during lawmakers' special session were supported by the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. But Parson's latest request could peel away their support.