Judge rejects paying Kathy McGuiness’s private attorney

Senate resolution asks court for guidance on removing elected officials
October 28, 2021

A Superior Court judge ruled Oct. 28 that the state will not pay for State Auditor Kathy McGuiness’s private attorney whom she hired following her indictment on multiple criminal charges.

McGuiness had petitioned the court to pay for her $500-an-hour attorney, Steven Wood, who has represented her since September when the state began investigating McGuiness for official misconduct, felony theft and felony witness intimidation. She was indicted by a grand jury Oct. 11, and McGuiness pleaded innocent to the charges the next day.

Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden denied McGuiness’s motion based on Delaware Code that allows the court to appoint a public defender when the Department of Justice is unable to represent a public official in a criminal proceeding.

“The language of the statute is clear and unambiguous,” Jurden wrote. “It is hereby ordered that the defendant’s petition is denied and the Office of Defense Services is appointed as counsel for the defendant.”

Senate passes resolution on court advice for removing public officials

A Senate concurrent resolution passed Nov. 1 by a 14-7 vote requesting advice from the Supreme Court on Delaware Code to remove an elected official.

Senate President Pro Tempore David Sokola, D-Newark, said the General Assembly needs clarification on its constitutional obligation in regard to the indictment against McGuiness. Specifically, the resolution asks the court to determine whether a grand jury indictment would be considered reasonable cause for removal, whether a lesser action such as suspension would be allowed, and whether a hearing process is required to address the governor.

McGuiness has refused to leave her elected position despite calls for her to resign.

The resolution passed along party lines. Senate Republicans objected because removing an officials based on an allegation goes against being innocent until proven guilty.

Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, asked whether a court opinion to remove an elected official would be applied to Sen. Darius Brown, D-Wilmington, who was charged with offensive touching and disorderly conduct after police said he punched a woman in the face. Sokola said the cases are different because McGuiness’s charges include felonies while Brown’s are misdemeanors; Lawson said one set of charges is nonviolent, while the others are violent.

The resolution was sent to the House after the Cape Gazette’s press deadline.


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter