Thursday, October 2, 2008

Still life, without Jennifer Joyce

I spent a little more than an hour this morning in the company of Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and two of her assistant prosecutors. I sketched the potted plant in the window while I waited in the reception area, where two property owners were groaning and groaning about petty thieves stripping their buildings of materials.

I initially called for the meeting when the Police Department tow scandal broke. We talked about the towing scandal. She said, like almost all prosecutors in Missouri, she almost never prosecutes asset forfeiture, especially when it's a vehicle, because it's expensive to insure and store cars and they steadily depreciate in value in the months or years it takes to prosecute the cases.

She said the St. Louis Police Department knew she doesn't prosecute these cases, but continued to tow cars anyway. She said it came as a surprise to her to learn that the cars were not returned to their rightful owners but instead loaned out to the police chief's daughter or sold on auction in sweetheart deals.

She said she is watching for the outcome of the federal investigation, just like everyone else.

A lawyer I know who defends a lot of cases in the city said Joyce's office must have been getting 800 calls a year from defense lawyers about their clients' cars that had been towed, so he wonders why the Circuit Attorney's Office wasn't wise to the discrepancy between her office's willingness to prosecute asset forfeiture cases and the Police Department's willingness to seize assets (cars) anyway.

But, he said, "I know nothing to besmirch her," and if there was anything to besmirch her, he would probably know it.

What else? She doesn't want to be the next mayor. One of her staff lawyers calls her "Jen." The girls from high school call her "Jenny." She is a tall, beautiful woman, who spoke directly with me and gave me lots of good information and quotes I can use - and not against her.

p.s. We drive by Wash. U., site of tonight's VP date, on the way home. From the looks of the signage, it's dead babies for McCain/PalinSt and labor for Obama/Biden. Since dead babies can't vote in Missouri, I like our odds.

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