JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt released his “AGO in Review,” a recap of the work that the Attorney General’s Office completed throughout 2021.
“In 2021, the Attorney General’s Office worked tirelessly to push back on extraordinary government overreach, fight violent crime, work to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, and advocate for Missouri consumers while serving as the state’s top legal officer,” said Attorney General Schmitt
. “My Office will continue to fight for all six million Missourians into the new year.”
In 2021, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office was successful in fighting against government overreach through multiple lawsuits seeking to halt the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandates. On November 10, 2021, Missouri led a 10-state coalition in a lawsuit against the Biden administration on the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) vaccine mandate on health care workers, the first states to file suit. On November 29, 2021, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office obtained a preliminary injunction halting the health care worker vaccine mandate. Missouri was also the first state to file suit to halt the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) vaccine mandate on private employers, and filed suit against the vaccine mandate on federal contractors as well. The CMS and OSHA cases were argued in front of the United States Supreme Court last week, while the suit on federal contractors has been granted a stay in federal court.
The Attorney General’s Office filed suit against the Biden Administration over their cancellation of the Migrant Protection Protocols, or “Remain in Mexico” policy and won at the District Court level, and successfully defended the permanent injunction at the 5th
Circuit Court of Appeals and United States Supreme Court. Because of the Office’s legal action, the Biden Administration was required to reimplement the successful program. Further, the Office also sued the Biden Administration to require the administration to use Congressionally appropriated funds to continue construction of the Southwest border wall.
The Attorney General’s Office has also had successes in combatting mask mandates across the state. In an effort to unmask Missouri’s children, the Office opened up the email inbox, firstname.lastname@example.org
, to hear from parents about school districts that were continuing to enforce mask mandates and quarantine orders despite a prior Cole County ruling that held that such actions were illegal. Upon receiving 7,500 emails to the inbox from concerned parents and students, Attorney General Schmitt sent 52 cease and desist letters to noncompliant school districts.
In December, Missouri joined a 24-state lawsuit to block the Biden Administration’s mask and vaccine mandate on Head Start students and volunteers, and recently obtained a preliminary injunction blocking that mandate. The Attorney General also closed the year with yet another lawsuit against St. Louis County for its third attempt at an illegal mask mandate after the Office has already defeated them twice in court.
At the end of 2021, the SAFE Kit Initiative, which aims to clear the backlog of untested sexual assault kits, has shipped 2,743 kits to the lab to be tested. Further, through regional shipping events, the Office has worked with police departments across the state to clear their backlog of reported, untested sexual assault kits. So far, 115 police departments have cleared their backlog of reported, untested sexual assault kits.
Attorney General Schmitt’s office also made huge strides against human trafficking in 2021, with three operations that resulted in the rescue of 62 victims and 105 arrests. One such operation included Operation United Front, where Missouri led a multi-state effort that led to 102 arrests across twelve states.
In the summer, the Attorney General’s Cold Case Unit filed charges against Alice Weiss for the 2004 murder of James Summer in Jefferson County. The Cold Case Unit was launched in December 2020.
The Missouri Attorney General’s Safer Streets Initiative that Attorney General Schmitt launched in 2019 has been extremely successful in 2021 at eradicating crime throughout the state. Since its inception, Special Assistant United States Attorneys in the Safer Streets Initiative have pursued 649 charges against 389 defendants. So far, there have been 134 guilty pleas or supervised release revocations secured, preventing them from continuing to place Missourians in danger.
A quick breakdown of the year by section can be found below.
In 2021, the Consumer Protection Section:
- Filed 41 total actions
- Obtained $17,342,241.90 in judgments/settlements for the State of Missouri
- Recovered $13,365,467.61 in restitution for Missouri citizens
The Public Safety Section continued its important work in prosecuting homicides and assisting local prosecutors in other complex cases across the state. That includes a recent first degree murder and armed criminal action conviction against Michael Humphrey and a second degree murder conviction against Lynlee Renick for a Boone County murder. Further, in March 2021, the Public Safety Section worked to file 102 charges against Boyd and Stephanie Householder, proprietors of the Circle of Hope Girls Ranch.
In 2021, the Medicaid Fraud Section:
- Handled 14 civil settlements that totaled $4,184,062.61
- Obtained 26 indictments and 7 convictions
- Filed 39 abuse and neglect cases
In 2021, the Governmental Affairs Section:
- Closed a total of 1,026 matters, including:
- 708 closed litigation cases and agency representation matters
- 273 closed Sunshine complaints
- Reduced backlog of cases by over 33%
In 2021, the Labor Section:
- Closed a total of 4.647 matters
- Obtained 3,475 dismissals in Second Injury Fund cases and 83 dismissals in Central Accident Reporting Office cases. Those dismissals represent a total of $9,095,493.50 in savings for the SIF and a total of $1,186,197.73 in savings for the CARO.
- Filed 35 new criminal cases and obtained 13 guilty pleas in prosecuting violations of the workers compensation act
- Collected $252,232 in penalties and restitution
In 2021, the Financial Services Section:
- Obtained 882 judgments modifying existing child support orders, ensuring Missouri children get the correct amount as stipulated by Missouri Supreme Court guidelines
- Processed over $12 million in payments
- Closed a total of 2,404 matters.
In 2021, the Criminal Appeals Section, which handles appeals of all felony convictions across the State of Missouri:
- Opened 500 new cases
- Closed out 695 cases
- Filed briefs in 761 cases
- Argued numerous cases to the Missouri Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals
In 2021, the Litigation Section:
- Closed a total of 217 matters and opened 212 new files
- Obtained numerous dismissals and summary judgment decisions in favor of the state
- Obtained numerous jury verdicts in favor of the state