Federal Judge Sets Key Rules for Evidence Ahead of Hunter Biden Trial on Gun Charges

Federal Judge Sets Key Rules for Evidence Ahead of Hunter Biden Trial on Gun Charges
Hunter Biden, President Joe Biden's son, arrives at the Thomas P. O'Neill Jr. House Office Building in Washington on Feb. 28, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

WILMINGTON, Del.—A federal judge on May 24 issued several rulings setting parameters for the presentation of evidence in Hunter Biden’s upcoming trial on felony gun charges. Both the prosecution and defense won favorable rulings on motions.

U.S. District Judge Maryellen Noreika approved a motion from Mr. Biden, 54, to exclude references during the trial to his discharge from the U.S. Navy and child support proceedings of which he was part. She also granted motions to exclude references to tax fraud charges Mr. Biden faces in California and to bar prosecutors from describing his profligate spending as an “extravagant lifestyle.”

Judge Norieka, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the government may talk about Mr. Biden’s spending, including how he spent $900 on a revolver he bought in Delaware in 2018.

The government also scored a key win when the judge ruled that the prosecution did not need to prove Mr. Biden was using drugs on the day he bought the gun. Prosecutors will only have to prove he was a user at the time.

She also agreed, however, to consider defense questions about the contents of an infamous laptop that Mr. Biden allegedly dropped off at a Delaware repair shop.

Hunter Biden’s attorneys want to raise questions about the authenticity of the laptop’s data at trial while prosecutors say that there’s no evidence it has been compromised and that a drawn-out fight over it would be a waste of time.

Judge Noreika said she will consider objections to specific pieces of data as the trial unfolds.

Prosecutors were able to convince the judge to prohibit Mr. Biden’s lawyers from talking about Delaware state officials did not bring any charges against Mr. Biden. Prosecutors said that fact was not relevant because state officials “did not possess the evidence federal authorities later obtained, and even if they had, the conduct was likely not prosecutable under Delaware state law.”

Several other motions brought by prosecutors will be decided later.

Mr. Biden is headed to trial on charges of making false statements when purchasing a firearm and illegally possessing a gun while being a drug addict and user. The trial is set to begin on June 3 and lawyers said it could last up to two weeks, or potentially longer.

He faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000 if convicted.

While filling out a federal form in 2018 to buy a revolver at a gun store in Delaware, Mr. Biden checked “no” in response to a question that asked, “Are you an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance?”

The form’s certification section, which Mr. Biden signed, warned that “making any false oral or written statement, or exhibiting any false or misrepresented identification with respect to this transaction, is a crime punishable as a felony under federal law.”

In a recent trial brief, prosecutors said they plan to call multiple witnesses to prove that Mr. Biden broke the law, including his ex-wife, several former girlfriends, and law enforcement officials. Prosecutors also plan on admitting statements made by Mr. Biden that he bought and possessed the gun and that he was a drug addict at the time.

Lawyers for Mr. Biden said in their brief that Mr. Biden did not actually possess the firearm after purchasing it through the time when it was tossed by an ex-girlfriend into a dumpster. They said that Mr. Biden said he was not an unlawful drug user or addict because he had “just completed an 11-day rehabilitation program and lived with a sober companion after that.” They also said that recent rulings in other cases means jurors should be told that one of the federal laws that Mr. Biden is accused of violating “is violated only when a person is simultaneously armed and actively intoxicated, and using the weapon in some way that terrifies or endangers others.”

Defense lawyers wanted to tell jurors that Mr. Biden has been sober, and has obeyed the law, since the summer of 2019, but the government’s motion to forbid those statements was approved by Judge Norieka.

Because the charges only involve 2018, any evidence of Mr. Biden’s actions in 2019 “is not relevant,” prosecutors said in their motion.

Prosecutorial motions to exclude questions about the constitutionality of the gun statute questioned by the defense, and to prohibit arguments about a plea agreement that Mr. Biden signed but was later scuttled, were also approved by the judge.

The judge was undecided on several other motions, including one involving data that prosecutors say was obtained from Mr. Biden’s data cloud.

Another motion that will be ruled on later deals with the federal form, ATF Form 4473, that Mr. Biden signed.

The original copy is the only one that should be entered into trial evidence, prosecutors argue. There’s another version that has several additions, including the addition of the words “DE VEHICLE REGISTRATION” under a section listing supplemental identification provided by Mr. Biden for purchasing the firearm.

Prosecutors said in a motion that Mr. Biden’s crimes were committed when he completed the form on Oct. 12, 2018, and that the annotations made later don’t change the crimes.

Defense lawyers said the annotations constitute “doctoring,” which “raises questions about the accuracy of the initial form and who completed it, as well as the credibility and now bias of the gun shop employees.”

The owner of StarQuest Shooters and Survival Supply, the gun store, is among the government’s planned witnesses. The owner will testify that he watched Mr. Biden fill out the form and check the “no” box.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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