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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Missouri Supreme Court disciplines St. Louis lawyers who waved guns at BLM protesters

 Mark and Patricia McCloskey point guns at protesters in front of their Central West End home on June 28, 2020.
Mark and Patricia McCloskey point guns at protesters in front of their Central West End home on June 28, 2020.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday indefinitely suspended the law licenses of two St. Louis attorneys who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020, but it stayed their suspensions and placed them on probation for a year.

The orders came after Missouri’s chief disciplinary counsel last year asked the court to suspend the law licenses of Mark McCloskey and his wife, Patricia McCloskey, in connection with their guilty pleas to misdemeanors stemming from the gun-waving incident.

The orders mean that if they violate the terms of their probation, their law licenses could be suspended indefinitely.

The probation terms require the McCloskeys, in written quarterly reports, to note any arrests, criminal charges, civil lawsuits, disputes with clients, investigations questioning their fitness to practice law and reports of additional disciplinary complaints.

The court also ordered them to provide 100 hours of pro bono legal services during their terms of probation.

Reached at the St. Louis law firm he and his wife operate, Mark McCloskey said he was disappointed the court disciplined them and may ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

“I disagree with the (Missouri) Supreme Court that what we did on our front porch constituted a misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude,” McCloskey said. “I don't think we acted in moral turpitude at all.”

He added: “I will respectfully cooperate with and fully perform my probation.”

The McCloskeys drew national headlines when they confronted a group of mostly Black protesters who had entered their gated community en route to demonstrate in front of the nearby home of a former St. Louis mayor in June 2020.

Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty in June 2021 to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was ordered to pay a fine of $750. Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty on the same date to misdemeanor harassment and was ordered to pay a fine of $2,000.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson pardoned both the following month.

Both McCloskeys were admitted to the Missouri bar in 1986. They practice together as the McCloskey Law Center and focus on personal injury, medical malpractice and defective products cases.

In asking the Supreme Court, which has oversight over lawyer disciplinary issues, to sanction them, Missouri Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan D. Pratzel said the misdemeanors to which the McCloskeys pleaded guilty showed “indifference to public safety” and involved “moral turpitude.”

In their response, the McCloskeys said they were justified in brandishing arms at the protesters because they were defending their property from a violent mob bent on mayhem and looting.

The now-iconic photo of the couple waving their guns at protesters quickly thrust the couple into the national limelight. The two were invited to speak at the Republican National Convention in August 2020.

Mark McCloskey is seeking the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Roy Blunt. He joins a crowded field of eight other candidates, including former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and U.S. Rep. Billy Long.

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Dan was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and moved to Kansas City with his family when he was eight years old. He majored in philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis and holds law and journalism degrees from Boston University. He has been an avid public radio listener for as long as he can remember – which these days isn’t very long… Dan has been a two-time finalist in The Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, and has won multiple regional awards for his legal and health care coverage. Dan doesn't have any hobbies as such, but devours one to three books a week, assiduously works The New York Times Crossword puzzle Thursdays through Sundays and, for physical exercise, tries to get in a couple of rounds of racquetball per week.