The Missouri Supreme Court has indefinitely suspended the law licenses of a Missouri couple convicted of misdemeanors for holding guns outside of their St. Louis home in 2020, when a group of protesters, including Black Lives Matter activists, demonstrated in their gated community.
At the same time, the court stayed the suspension, subject to a year of probation during which the two attorneys—who have become folk heroes among conservatives—must “not engage in conduct that violates the Rules of Professional Conduct.”
For defending their home, Mark and Patricia McCloskey were honored speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention. Mark McCloskey is currently running for the U.S. Senate as a Republican.
Although the McCloskeys, who were pardoned after their convictions by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, argued that they were justified in holding firearms outside of their home to dissuade the crowd, which they said meant them harm, local prosecutors disagreed.
The case, which involved prosecutorial misconduct, received national media attention.
Kimberly Gardner, a Democrat and St. Louis’s first black chief prosecutor, who has accused local police of racism, was removed from the case in December 2020 by Circuit Judge Thomas Clark II for using the incident in inflammatory campaign fundraising emails that were sent out days before the McCloskeys were charged. Clark ruled that Gardner’s behavior raised “the appearance of impropriety” and jeopardized the defendants’ right to a fair trial, National Public Radio reported.
Leftist financier George Soros, whose philanthropy funded groups that were involved in the violent protests following the 2014 death of black teenager Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, also contributed to Gardner’s campaign through his political organizations as part of a “rogue prosecutors” campaign to elect soft-on-crime district attorneys, Capital Research Center found, according to the Washington Times. Critics say that these radical prosecutors have caused crime rates to escalate in communities across the country.
The Black Lives Matter activists who appeared outside of the McCloskeys’ home were marching to the home of the St. Louis mayor to protest the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, a black man whose death sparked violent protests nationwide. Nine protesters involved in the incident were charged with misdemeanor trespassing, but the charges were later dropped.
The McCloskeys said at the time that their actions “were borne solely of fear and apprehension” at the presence of the mob on a private street.
Under court rules, the fact that Mark and Patricia McCloskey were each convicted of a “misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude” requires them to be disciplined, Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson wrote in twin orders on Feb. 8.
Moral turpitude is a legal term describing “wicked, deviant behavior constituting an immoral, unethical, or unjust departure from ordinary social standards such that it would shock a community,” according to the Legal Information Institute.
Mark McCloskey entered a guilty plea on June 17, 2021, to a “class A misdemeanor of harassment in the second degree,” Wilson wrote (pdf). He was fined $750. Patricia McCloskey entered a guilty plea on the same day to a “class C misdemeanor of assault in the fourth degree,” the chief justice wrote (pdf). She was fined $2,000.
The couple had originally been charged with felony-level unlawful use of a weapon, although prosecutors reached a plea deal with them to reduce the severity of the charges.
Alan Pratzel, the court’s chief disciplinary officer, previously moved to have their law licenses suspended. He said what the couple did showed “indifference to public safety” and involved “moral turpitude.”
Pratzel acknowledged that the governor’s pardons erased the McCloskeys’ convictions, but said in such cases “the person’s guilt remains,” as The Epoch Times previously reported.
Patricia McCloskey told local media that she was “disappointed the Supreme Court found it appropriate to discipline us.”
“I think what we did was certainly not an act of moral turpitude,” she said.
She noted that they’ll both comply with the probation conditions.
Katabella Roberts contributed to this article.