The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday placed a St. Louis couple who gained national attention for waving guns at racial injustice protesters on probation as attorneys.
The court suspended Mark and Patricia McCloskeys' law licenses but delayed the suspension and put the two on probation for a year. The order means the couple can still practice, but the suspension will take effect if they violate their probation by breaking any more laws.
Mark McCloskey said Tuesday that he was disappointed by the ruling but happy the court chose to put the couple on probation, rather than suspend their licenses.
He and his wife will comply with the order, McCloskey said, but he plans to consult with his attorney about the possibility of taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
McCloskey, who is among several Republican candidates running for the U.S. Senate, told The Associated Press he never expected the couple to be accused of moral turpitude before the state Supreme Court “for doing what we thought was right.”
“I think the reason why we were asked to be suspended had more to do with politics than anything else," McCloskey said. “But we respect the Supreme Court's opinion, although we disagree ... We will comply 100% with the orders."
In a previous court filing seeking the suspension, Missouri Chief Disciplinary Counsel Alan Pratzel cited the McCloskey’s guilty pleas to misdemeanors stemming from the June 2020 encounter with protesters. Pratzel’s office is responsible for investigating ethical complaints against Missouri lawyers.
The McCloskeys have said they felt threatened by the protesters who walked onto their private street during global protests that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Mark McCloskey emerged from his home with an AR-15-style rifle, and Patricia McCloskey waved a semi-automatic pistol.
The pair received national attention after the confrontation, including from former President Donald Trump and other Republican conservative leaders. Missouri Gov. Mike Parsons pardoned them last year.
Noting that support, McCloskey said he doesn't expect the probation to affect his Senate campaign.
“The folks that support me know what I did, why I did it and support me for having done it,” he said.
Mark McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and was ordered to pay a $750 fine. Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty to misdemeanor harassment and was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
Pratzel’s motion said that while a pardon erases a person’s conviction, “the person’s guilt remains.”
The judges agreed, writing that the couple “committed a misdemeanor offense involving moral turpitude” and should be disciplined.
Summer Ballentine in Jefferson City contributed to this report