Judge chastises legal team for Hunter Biden

Hunter Biden (right center) and his attorney Abbe Lowell (right) enter the Independence County Courthouse in Batesville on Monday, May 1, 2023, in his child support and paternity case. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

BATESVILLE -- With Hunter Biden in attendance, the judge in his paternity and child support case said during a hearing Monday morning that she hoped to ignite "a flurry of activity" between the two parties in the case.

"I know everyone is working hard," Independence County Circuit Judge Holly Meyer said to the attorneys. "I know everyone is under a microscope, but I expect this case to move."

Biden is the son of President Joe Biden, and he has been embroiled in a years-long court battle with Lunden Roberts, the plaintiff in the case. They have a 4-year-old daughter.

Roberts, who lives in Arkansas, met Biden while she was a student at George Washington University in Washington D.C., attorneys said.

During Monday's hearing in Batesville, Biden did not speak, except to whisper to his attorneys. He mostly stared straight ahead while his and Roberts' attorneys addressed the court.

Biden's attorneys revealed during Monday's hearing that Biden currently pays $20,000 per month to Roberts for child support. Biden has sought to lower that monthly payment.

Meyer went line by line through the discovery documents, ordering attorneys to comply with the requests and not to provide blank or overly vague answers.

The requests for discovery included everything from the reported value of Hunter Biden's unsold artwork to his stock investments. Conversely, Roberts was ordered to provide more-detailed information about her mortgage, latest credit report and other pertinent financial information.

The discovery process is defined by the American Bar Association as the exchange of information between parties regarding witnesses and evidence they intend to present at trial.

In his 2021 tax return, Biden disclosed he had received $9 million from a company based in China.

Roberts' attorney, Clint Lancaster, told the judge there were "zero documents" related to that business partnership. He also said that in regards to the unsold artwork, he received 20 to 30 pages of documents, but they included no price value.

Meyer admonished Biden's attorneys, Abbe Lowell and Brent Langdon, about their detail-deficient responses during the discovery process.

"This cryptic type of ballgame is not going to cut it come trial time," she said.

Meyer set a deadline of 5 p.m. May 12 for every discovery response to be completed and filed.

The case, which started in 2019 as a paternity case, was reopened in 2020 after Biden asked to have the previously agreed-upon child support payments lowered. Meyer noted during the hearing that the case was moving at a normal speed as recently as January, but it inexplicably stalled.

"There has been a whole lot of spinning wheels here and not much forward movement," Meyer said, summing up the status of the case in recent months.

The judge scheduled Monday's hearing last week and also ordered all parties, including Biden himself, to appear in court in person. She suggested that the scheduled hearing resulted in the pace picking back up last week.

At the start of the hearing, Langdon complained about details disclosed in recent news stories, which could have only come from documents that were redacted and declared confidential, he said.

Langdon said he was concerned about the matters that were being discussed in the media and mentioned that one recent story in the Daily Mail included information about a Porsche Panamera that Biden was known to drive.

He suggested that the information was taken from the redacted documents.

"You're making a jump saying there's been a breach," Meyer said.

She reiterated what she had said during a previous hearing, insisting that she can't issue gag orders in an attempt to prevent certain stories from being written.

"I can't gag the whole world," the judge said.

Meyer also criticized Biden's attorneys for redacting too much information in their filings. She said that "actual information" as it relates to Biden's tax returns can be redacted, but not general requests for information.

Roberts' family members were seated in the front row behind Roberts and her two attorneys. Seated at the end of the row was Garrett Ziegler, who may be called as a witness during the coming trial. Lancaster has referred to Ziegler as an "expert witness" on the contents of Biden's infamous laptop, which includes income and tax records. Biden's laptop was dropped off at a repair shop in 2019 in Delaware and abandoned, according to various news reports.

After the nearly two-hour hearing was adjourned, Roberts left the courtroom with her family. She did not speak to Biden or look in his direction. Biden shook Lancaster's hand and exchanged pleasantries with him before leaving.

The next pretrial hearing in the case is scheduled for May 23, during which time attorneys will discuss any lingering issues related to discovery and other matters.

Depositions were also scheduled by attorneys at the judge's behest. Biden and Roberts are scheduled to have their depositions June 13-16 in Little Rock. Ziegler is scheduled to appear for his deposition on May 22.