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Hunter Biden must appear in person for contempt hearing in Batesville, judge rules

by Tony Holt | April 28, 2023 at 5:46 p.m.
Hunter Biden talks in the East Room of the White House in Washington in this July 7, 2022 file photo. Biden was attending a presentation of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 people. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

A Batesville judge on Friday refused a last-ditch attempt by attorneys representing Hunter Biden to allow him to attend a contempt hearing in his child support and paternity case on Monday by phone or video conference.

Independence County Circuit Judge Holly Meyer issued an order Friday afternoon denying Biden's motion, stating that “all parties are to physically appear” for future hearings related the case.

Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, was originally ordered Monday to attend the upcoming hearing. Hunter Biden's attorneys asked the judge to consider allowing their client — who has a house in California and regularly spends time in Washington, D.C. — to attend Monday’s hearing via phone or videoconferencing, but the judge would not back off her original order.

Lunden Roberts, who is the mother of Hunter Biden’s 4-year-old daughter, has accused Hunter Biden of violating previous court orders and not providing evidence related to the estranged couple’s off-again-on-again paternity dispute.

The case began in 2019, and it appeared both parties reached a conclusion when Biden agreed to pay monthly child support. The saga was restarted in the fall of 2020 after Biden's attorneys asked that the child support amount be adjusted — and the feud between the two parties has only intensified in recent weeks.

Biden is facing allegations that he has failed to comply with discovery related to his income. Biden’s laptop, which was the subject of attention from some media outlets shortly before the 2020 presidential election, could contain pertinent information about Biden’s income, according to the Roberts' attorneys.

Also involved in the controversy is Garrett Ziegler, whom Roberts' attorneys have declared an “expert witness” because he has familiarity with the contents of the laptop. Biden's attorneys want to exclude Ziegler as a potential witness and have been seeking a restraining order to prevent Ziegler from publicizing Biden’s financial information. Ziegler is an outspoken supporter of former president Donald Trump.

Friday’s terse order by Meyer was issued after Biden's attorneys requested their client be permitted to attend the hearing via phone or video conference. They filed their motion four days after the judge had already ordered in open court that all parties be present for the next scheduled hearing. Biden's attorneys filed their latest motion on the matter at 7:39 a.m. Friday. Meyer’s ruling came five hours later.

Biden attorney Brent Langdon cited the “time, expense, logistical challenges and especially the media event any in-person hearing would create” when he filed his latest request to have Biden appear by phone or video.

In her order, the judge stated that if either party violates her ruling, “the court will enforce those orders.”

In another motion filed Friday, Langdon requested that Washington, D.C., attorney Abbe Lowell serve as co-counsel and appear in court. Lowell is a member of the state bars of Maryland, New York and Washington D.C., but not Arkansas, according to court filings.

In a twist, Lowell has previous professional ties to Trump, whom Joe Biden defeated in the 2020 election. Lowell, who recently was described by the New York Times as one of Washington D.C.’s “best-known scandal lawyers,” previously represented Ivanka Trump, the former president’s daughter, and her husband, Jared Kushner.

CORRECTION: Hunter Biden was originally ordered Monday to attend the upcoming hearing. An earlier version of this story gave the incorrect time for the order. 


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