Kellyanne Conway assault case, punishment that could flow from a conviction

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Kellyanne Conway assault case, punishment that could flow from a conviction.

Prosecutors in Maryland dropped criminal charges against a woman accused of accosting White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway over her political views at a Mexican restaurant near Washington.

In a brief court appearance Monday morning, Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Kathy Knight said the office will not move forward on one count of second-degree assault and another of disorderly conduct that were filed five months ago by Montgomery County Police.

At that time, police alleged that Mary Elizabeth Inabinett, 63, of suburban Chevy Chase, had been at Uncle Julio’s in Bethesda when she approached Conway from behind, grabbed her shoulders briefly and yelled “shame on you” among other statements. The altercation resulted in Inabinett being removed from the restaurant, according to court documents, and followed a series of incidents in the Washington area in which employees of President Donald Trump were taunted and heckled in public.

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A trial had been scheduled to begin Monday. Conway and Inabinett were not in court before Montgomery County Circuit Judge Robert A. Greenberg.

In dismissing charges, prosecutors essentially declared that even if they could prove the case, Inabinett would not merit the types of punishment that could flow from a conviction.

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She had no previous criminal record, did not injure Conway and agreed to apologize in a letter to Conway, according to Montgomery State’s Attorney John McCarthy, the county’s longtime prosecutor.

“Was this woman rude? Yes,” McCarthy said. “Did she violate Ms. Conway’s space and try to embarrass her? Yes, and yes. Is this a case where criminal sanctions would have been appropriate? No.”

Kathy Knight, Montgomery County prosecutor, said in court that “Ms. Inabinett chose that time and place — inappropriately so — to make contact with Ms. Conway and vent her political opposition to Ms. Conway.” However, “given the lack of priors, the de minimus nature of the contact and the apology letter,” the state dismissed the counts, Knight told the judge.

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The charges of second-degree assault and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanours, cover a wide-range of conduct, with the assault count ranging from spitting to punching someone and the conduct charge applying to raising a public ruckus that affects the behaviour of others.

“Dropping this case was a very reasonable exercise in prosecutorial discretion,” said David Felsen, a veteran defence attorney in the county.

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