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Arkansas paternity-suit service argument loses steam; Biden’s son seen as likely to drop it

by Frank E. Lockwood | October 11, 2019 at 7:16 a.m.
FILE — In this 2012 file photo, Hunter Biden waits for the start of his father's debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

After initially questioning whether he'd been properly served with a paternity lawsuit, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden is expected to drop that objection, according to a document filed Thursday in Independence County.

A hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 2 in Batesville before 16th Judicial Circuit Judge Don McSpadden.

Biden and the baby's mother, Lunden Alexis Roberts, "have settled issues related to the service of process" and proper service "is no longer expected to be a contested issue," Roberts' attorney, Clint Lancaster, wrote in a motion filed Thursday.

An attorney for Biden in Arkansas declined to comment Thursday, referring all questions to Chicago attorney George Mesires. Mesires did not respond to an email and a voicemail Thursday afternoon.

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 2014 Arkansas State University graduate met Hunter Biden while taking subsequent courses at George Washington University, Lancaster said.

According to a July 1 article in The New Yorker, Biden has denied "having sexual relations" with Roberts.

Roberts, 28, 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.

In September, she asked the court to order Biden to provide a DNA sample. The Motion for Scientific (DNA) Testing alleged that Biden had "verbally admitted to the plaintiff that he is the father of her child."

Biden's response was originally due next Monday. After both sides reached an agreement, McSpadden extended the deadline for the response to Oct. 21.

"We are continuing to work on settling issues," Lancaster said via text message Thursday. "If we can agree to a DNA test Then we may not need that December hearing".

A graduate of Georgetown University and Yale Law School, Biden has worked as an attorney, lobbyist and a private equity investment partner. He also served on Amtrak's board of directors.

With his father seeking the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, Biden's personal and professional life have increasingly become campaign fodder.

In The New Yorker article, he spoke at length about his past drug abuse, his 2017 divorce from his first wife, Kathleen Biden, and his overseas business ventures, including his tenure on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian natural gas company.

At the time, Joe Biden was President Barack Obama's point man on Ukraine. In that role Joe Biden worked to oust the country's top prosecutor.

In a July 25 phone call, President Donald Trump raised concerns with his Ukrainian counterpart, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, about both Bidens' dealings in Ukraine, saying it "sounds horrible" and asking Zelenskiy if he would "look into it."

Both Bidens have denied any wrongdoing.

Trump's phone call remarks prompted a whistleblower complaint, alleging that the president was soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 election. Democrats subsequently opened an impeachment inquiry.

After Roberts' suit was filed, her attorney tried for nearly two months to track down Biden so he could be served with a summons and a copy of the suit.

On July 19, a copy of the documents was left with someone at the West Hollywood, Calif., apartment occupied by Hunter Biden's new wife, Melissa Cohen, according to an affidavit filed by a California process server.

Neighbors have seen the couple at the apartment, and the person answering the door claimed to be related to Cohen, the process server said.

Normally, the court papers are supposed to be delivered personally to a defendant. California allows them to be left "at the person's business, dwelling house" or "usual place of abode," in some instances, if it is done "in the presence of a competent member of the household or a person apparently in charge of his or her office, place of business, or usual mailing address."

The competent member must be at least 18 years old and must be "informed of the contents" of the documents. The address can't be a post office box. In order for the service to be valid, a separate copy of the documents must be mailed to the place where they were left. "Service of a summons in this manner is deemed complete on the 10th day after the mailing," the California Code of Civil Procedure states.

Arkansas allows service, in some instances, to a defendant's family members. It also would recognize California service "in any manner" that complies with California law.

On Aug. 19, an attorney for Biden filed an answer in the case, maintaining that his client "has not been properly served" with a summons and a copy of the petition.

"The process server attempted to serve the Petition and Summons by delivering such to a non-party at an address where Defendant does not reside," the answer stated.

Biden's Arkansas legal team includes former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, as well as Bart Calhoun and Jessica D. Johnston.

Metro on 10/11/2019

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