An attorney representing Hunter Biden in a paternity case filed a motion for a protective order and incorporated brief Friday afternoon with the Independence County circuit clerk's office but requested that the information be withheld from the public, court officials said.
When contacted by telephone, the circuit clerk's office said it would decline to allow the document to be viewed in person. The document also was kept off of the CourtConnect system, the online portal where court records are typically posted and available to the public.
An earlier "motion for mutual protective order and incorporated brief," filed by Hunter's legal team on Nov. 27, had been treated as a public document.
That document was still posted on CourtConnect early Friday evening.
Chief Deputy Clerk Marcia Young said her office was seeking legal guidance to determine whether the latest motion for protective order and incorporated brief should be made public.
"We're not attorneys," she said. "We're stuck in the middle here."
With the document request arising right before closing time on a Friday afternoon, questions surrounding the documents would likely remain unresolved until after the weekend, she said.
"We're trying to get it cleared up," she said.
Lunden Alexis Roberts' paternity suit, filed May 28, alleges that she and Biden "were in a relationship" and that "Baby Doe" was born in August 2018 "as a result of that relationship."
The 28-year old Arkansas State University graduate is asking the court to establish that Biden, 49, is the baby's biological father and to order him to pay child support and provide health insurance for the toddler.
Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, initially denied ever having sexual relations with Roberts, according to The New Yorker.
DNA testing last month established, "with scientific certainty," that Hunter Biden is the baby's father, according to a filing by Roberts' attorney.
Hunter Biden is "not contesting paternity," according to a Nov. 27 motion for continuance filed on his behalf.
In an affidavit dated Nov. 27, Hunter Biden told the court he is unemployed and has had "no monthly income since May 2019."
The Yale-educated attorney, who recently moved to California, has an address in a Hollywood Hills neighborhood, court filings show. The home and property is assessed at $2.5 million, according to the Los Angeles County assessor's office.
It's unclear if Biden owns or rents the place.
Questions about Hunter Biden's finances, employment history and previous substance abuse have been raised by Republicans during the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Joe Biden is a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.
In an order filed Dec. 4, Circuit Judge Don McSpadden of Batesville stated that "all affidavits of financial means, tax returns or other financial information concerning either party" would be treated as "confidential financial information" and sealed.
In addition, "any documents or pleadings -- including interrogatories or deposition excerpts -- which contain or allude to confidential financial information shall be sealed as usual," he wrote.
However, he instructed the attorneys to create two sets of documents, "one copy with the confidential information fully redacted and the other with the confidential information unredacted."
"[I]f any documents with confidential information are filed by the Clerk of the Court, the redacted document shall be made publicly available and the unredacted document shall be sealed," he wrote.
It's "pretty normal" for a judge to instruct attorneys to submit two sets of records, one redacted and the other unredacted, according to John Tull, an attorney who serves as general counsel with the Arkansas Press Association.
"Typically, just a motion for protective order and the brief in support are not going to be under seal," he said.
Earlier this month, the three Arkansas attorneys representing Biden withdrew from the case, citing an "irreconcilable conflict."
A Texarkana, Texas, attorney who now represents Hunter Biden, Brent M. Langdon, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
When a reporter asked to speak with Langdon, a receptionist in his office said: "We do not make comments on pending cases."
McSpadden had given Biden until 4:30 p.m. Thursday to submit an affidavit of financial means as well as his last five pay stubs or "five previous years" of tax returns.
The document, which was not posted online, was received before the deadline, court records show.
Metro on 12/14/2019