Judge denies request to dismiss McGuiness charge

Charlie MegginsonGovernment, Headlines

a man standing in front of a store

Delaware Auditor of Accounts Kathleen McGuiness walks out of the Leonard L. Williams Justice Center in Wilmington alongside her attorney, Steve Wood, after a pre-trial hearing on April 7, 2022. (Charlie Megginson, Delaware LIVE News)

State Auditor Kathleen McGuiness’ request to dismiss the felony intimidation charge she faces was denied Monday.

McGuiness is under indictment on a slew of felony and misdemeanor charges alleging conflict of interest, theft, non-compliance with procurement law, official misconduct and witness intimidation.

In April, the auditor’s attorney argued the intimidation charge details acts that occurred prior to McGuiness becoming aware of the investigation. Because she didn’t know she was being investigated, there would have been no way for her to intimidate a witness, her attorney argued. 

The state argued McGuiness’ awareness of an active investigation was irrelevant. Her actions may still qualify as witness intimidation if she believed they could potentially influence a witness in a future investigation or trial, even if she was not aware of one at the time.

McGuiness’s attorney, Steve Wood, asked Judge William Carpenter of the Superior Court of Delaware to dismiss that charge on April 7.

RELATED: McGuiness waits for ruling on charge dismissal, trial date

In his May 2 decision, Carpenter said while the court disagrees with the state’s position on what is required to establish the offense, it believes the indictment is sufficient to allow it to proceed to trial. 

“In any event, the Court is satisfied that Count Five is sufficiently drafted to allow it to proceed forward,” the decision says. “While it clearly could have been drafted with greater clarity, the Court is convinced that the Defendant has been provided sufficient information to allow her to defend the allegation and that information would prevent future prosecution for this conduct.”

A trial date is currently set for the end of May, but during the April hearing Carpenter said he didn’t think a May trial would give either side, or the court, time to properly prepare.

If Carpenter moves it, he said it likely will be held in late summer or early fall, but he has not decided.

If it’s moved, the trial could be within just a few weeks of the Sept. 13 state primary election. McGuiness has said she plans to seek a second term.

RELATED: McGuiness pleads not guilty; bail set at $50,000

Click here to view the court decision in its entirety.

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