Judge rejects motion for state to pay $500 an hour for Auditor McGuiness’ defense attorney

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A Superior Court Judge Thursday denied a motion from the lawyer for state Auditor Kathy McGuiness that sought  $500 an hour in compensation from the state.

President Judge Jan Jurden appointed the Office of Defense Services to represent McGuiness, indicted on felony and misdemeanor counts by a grand jury. The state pays attorneys for the ODS $100 an hour.

The ODS was formed in response to cases where a conflict exists.  McGuiness is prosecuted by the Delaware Department of Justice and can receive paid counsel from the state since the charges took place while performing her duties in the office.

Allegations range from nepotism in hiring her daughter (who directly reported to her mother) to monitoring of employees who she believed were complaining about the office’s practices to structuring contract work in a way that exempted it from state review. 

McGuiness’ attorney Steven P. Wood of the law firm of McCarter & English, argued that the compensation was justified and alleged that a conflict existed with any state-appointed attorney.

Jurden rejected the argument, noting that rules are clear in their intent.

McGuiness has the option of paying for a private attorney out of her pocket. 

In filing to quash Wood’s motion, the Justice Department cited McGuiness’ financial resources, describing her as wealthy with a home valued at between $2.2 million and $3.7 million.

The DOJ also noted that McGuinness hired legal counsel before the indictment.

Through her attorney, Wood, McGuiness denied all charges and vowed to continue  in office.  State Senator leadership asked her to take a  leave of absence and other legislators have called for her removal by the governor. 

McGuiness is believed to be the first official holding statewide office to be the subject of criminal  prosecution.

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