Delaware auditor Kathy McGuiness has filed an appeal in Delaware Supreme Court, claiming she did not get a fair trial when she was convicted of two misdemeanors related to hiring her daughter because her rights were violated before trial.
The redacted – public only version of the appeal says that Delaware Department of Justice prosecutors ignored their obligations under Brady V. Maryland by waiting until six weeks before trial to disclose 511,266 digital files that had been in their possession for more than six months.
The U.S. Supreme Court Brady ruling required prosecutors to turn over evidence that might exonerate the defendant.
The appeal did not specify what was in the records that would have exonerated McGuiness, but said they included 51 un-transcribed witness interview audiofiles as well as 511,266 documents and other files.
McGuiness’s lawyer Steve P. Wood describes the late release in the appeal as “surely the largest Brady violation in the history of Delaware” and further notes that the state did not ever search the material for anything that showed McGuiness did not break the law.
The appeal also notes that Chief Investigator Frank Robinson swore to a “demonstrably false” probable cause affadavit. It charges that the authors of that document “”may have included senior prosecutors and administrators at the Department of Justice.
That would violate Franks V. Delaware, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that deals with defendants’ rights to challenge evidence under a warrant granted on the basis of a false statement.
It also says trial Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. “overlooked well-settled constitutional, statutory and rule-based precedent, allowing the state not just to land “hard blows” but also “foul ones.”
Some of those were his refusal to grant multiple objections and motions to exclude testimony as irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial because it related to incidents that occurred
before McGuiness knew she was under investigation, the appeal said.
Efforts were not successful Tuesday to reach Wood for comment.
What’s next in appeal
The standard order of events in an appeal is for prosecutors to file a brief in response. The two sides may exchange another set of briefs. At that point, a judge may rule on the case based on information in the briefs, or may decide to call both sides in for oral arguments.
McGuiness was sentenced in October to a year of probation, 500 hours of community service and a $10,000 fine after being convicted in July on misdemeanor charges of conflict of interest and official misconduct that stemmed from hiring her daughter.
Filed March 29, the appeal notes that McGuiness is the only Delaware statewide official to be charged and convicted of a crime while in office.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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