Supreme Court rules in former state Auditor Kathy McGuiness' criminal conviction appeal

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The Delaware Supreme Court has affirmed the misdemeanor conflict of interest conviction of former state Auditor Kathy McGuiness while overturning her other misdemeanor conviction, remanding that charge for a potential second trial.

In 2022, McGuiness became the first sitting, statewide public office holder to be convicted of criminal charges when a jury found her guilty of conflict of interest and official misconduct, two misdemeanors, tied to her hiring her daughter as a part-time employee in the auditor’s office. A third guilty verdict based on state purchasing rules was tossed by the trial judge after the verdicts.

She was acquitted of a felony theft charge tied to her daughter’s employment as well as felony witness intimidation.

Editor's Note: Read the full ruling at the bottom of the story.

She appealed the remaining convictions based on a myriad of issues that largely center on an argument that missteps by prosecutors and subsequent rulings by the presiding judge were unconstitutional and rendered her trial unfair.

The 75-page majority ruling by the state's high court, accompanied by brief dissent, largely rejected those arguments, concluding that McGuiness' conflict of interest conviction for hiring her daughter was legitimate.

Previously: The case before Delaware's Supreme Court over former Auditor Kathy McGuiness' conviction

"Notwithstanding the defendant’s inflamed rhetoric, the record amply demonstrates that she received a fair trial," wrote Justice Abigail M. LeGrow in the majority opinion.

The court did side with McGuiness on one issue, overturning her misdemeanor conviction for official misconduct. The reversal centers on the evidence presented as part of the state purchasing rules violation that the judge threw out after the trial.

The justices reasoned that evidence presented as part of that charge prejudicially spilled over into the jury's consideration of the official misconduct charge.

The ruling sets up the potential for another trial aimed specifically at the official misconduct charge. However, with the conflict of interest charge upheld, prosecutors also may decline to retry the remanded charge.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Kathy Jennings said no decision has been made on whether prosecutors will pursue another trial on the remanded charge.

In a written statement, Jennings, who is facing a civil lawsuit over her pursuit of the case against McGuiness, said the ruling "vindicates the principle" that "nobody should be above the law or beneath justice."

"After more than two years of endless litigation and theatrical rhetoric, the bottom line is that a jury, a Superior Court judge, and now the Delaware Supreme Court have all concluded that the ex-auditor’s actions were criminal," Jennings wrote.

She also said she was proud of the prosecutors who pursued the charges and was inspired by whistleblowers who sparked the case.

Steve Wood, McGuiness' attorney, said: "We are grateful for the opportunity we had to make our arguments to the Delaware Supreme Court."

"Obviously, we are disappointed with the result, but respect it," Wood said.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for more details.

Contact Xerxes Wilson at (302) 324-2787 or

McGuiness Ruling by Xerxes Wilson on Scribd

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Supreme Court rules on former state Auditor Kathy McGuiness' appeal