Federal prosecutors have firmly urged a judge to reject the request made by Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, to have his first court appearance on felony firearm charges conducted via video. Department of Justice special counsel David Weiss stated in a court filing that Hunter Biden “should be treated no differently” from other defendants, emphasizing that the court’s pandemic-related order for virtual proceedings had expired in June 2022. Since then, defendants have been required to appear in person for their initial court appearances.
Avoiding Disruption and Resource Burden
On Tuesday, Hunter Biden’s defense attorney, Abbe Lowell, argued that a virtual court appearance would prevent unnecessary disruption to the courthouse and downtown areas in Wilmington, as it would minimize the impact resulting from his client’s Secret Service protection. Lowell also highlighted that conducting the proceedings virtually would alleviate the burden on government resources. During Hunter Biden’s appearance, Lowell assured the judge that his client would plead not guilty to the charges and emphasized that there was no valid reason why those words could not be communicated through video conference.
Rejecting the Argument for Convenience
In response to Hunter Biden’s request, Weiss asserted that the argument presented by Lowell did not provide sufficient justification for a virtual appearance. Weiss stated that if convenience alone was a legitimate basis for virtual proceedings, every defendant would request them for every case. Drawing attention to Hunter Biden’s prior court appearance, Weiss highlighted its atypical nature. In late July, a plea deal between Hunter Biden and prosecutors regarding criminal tax charges fell through after scrutiny from a judge. Consequently, Hunter Biden pled not guilty to the tax charges, which complicated a separate pretrial diversion agreement related to a gun-related charge.
Weiss further argued that an in-person proceeding would be more conducive to addressing any unforeseen issues that may arise. Though the government anticipated a straightforward process since the parties had not reached an agreement to resolve the matter, Weiss emphasized the importance of being prepared for any potential complications.
Hunter Biden, aged 53, was indicted on three criminal counts last week related to his possession of a firearm while being an unlawful drug user. He has been candid about his struggles with substance abuse. The charges filed against him include two counts of lying about his illegal drug use in connection with his purchase of a Colt Cobra revolver. The third count accuses him of possessing a firearm while being an unlawful drug user.
As this story continues to unfold, please check back for updates on the court’s decision regarding Hunter Biden’s request for a virtual court appearance.