Now it looks like Hunter wants to try to duck showing up for his arraignment in person on the gun charges.
NEW: Judge overseeing Hunter Biden gun arraignment asks defense to file response by Sept. 19 on why his initial appearance should be held via video conference.
Prosecutors who it to happen in-person ordered to respond by Sept. 20.
Order comes from Judge Burke. pic.twitter.com/HkCZp9kgkS
— Kaelan Deese (@KaelanDC) September 18, 2023
According to an order in the case filed on Monday, Judge Christopher J. Burke, who is the magistrate judge handling the arraignment, wants Hunter’s attorneys to give a written explanation as to why they want to hold the arraignment via video conference. They have to submit that by Tuesday, September 19. Then the prosecution, who is opposing this, has to submit a response by Wednesday, September 20. The judge reportedly could decide on the matter this week.
Pursuant to Judge Burke’s Monday order, Biden’s team filed a letter with the court Tuesday setting forth their rationale for the request. Then, on Wednesday, Special Counsel David Weiss filed a response opposing the request.
Weiss, in a court filing Wednesday, opposed Biden’s request to appear via video for the court appearance.
“The government opposes the defendant’s request to hold a virtual initial appearance and arraignment on the indictment that was returned by a grand jury on September 14, 2023,” Weiss said in a filing. “Fifteen months ago, the Court’s standing order authorizing virtual proceedings during the pandemic expired.”
“Given the serious felony gun charges at issue in this case, this Court should have an opportunity to assess the defendant in a live setting when discharging its obligations under 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f) and (g), and considering recommendations for conditions of release,” he continued. “Accordingly, the government opposes the defendant’s request for a virtual proceeding.”
Wednesday afternoon, Judge Burke issued an order denying Biden’s request to appear via video, observing:
The Court understands Defendant‘s point that the initial appearance (as well as the arraignment, which will occur during the same hearing), will not likely be lengthy, and that there will be some amount of logistical inconvenience for Defendant and the United States Secret Service if the hearing is held in person, as opposed to by video conference. But although initial appearances in criminal matters are often short in duration, our Court has always considered them to be important. In part, that is because the hearing is one of the few occasions in a criminal case when a defendant physically appears in our Court, before a judge — in a setting that helps to emphasize the “integrity and solemnity of a federal criminal proceeding.” And in part that is due to the significant nature of the rights that are discussed at such a hearing. (citations omitted)
The judge also pointed out that the charges on which Biden is appearing are different from those previously discussed by the parties and the court at the hearing in July, adding that while he didn’t anticipate the pre-trial release conditions to change, that would be the time for them to be discussed.
Of note, Judge Burke also took pains to emphasize that Biden is to be treated like any other defendant in a federal criminal proceeding.
In the end, the court agrees with both Defendant and the Government that Defendant should not receive special treatment in this matter — absent some unusual circumstance, he should be treated, just as would any other defendant in our Court. Any other defendant would be required to attend his or her initial appearance in person. So too here.
The appearance is set for September 26 at 10:00 a.m. A full copy of Judge Burke’s order may be viewed below.
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