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Hunter’s plea for jury nullification


The criminal trial of President Joe Biden’s troubled son Robert Hunter Biden on three gun charges in a Delaware federal district court is troubling, but not for the reasons you might expect. The trial itself is unremarkable and playing out like any trial where the evidence of guilt, both direct and circumstantial, is overwhelming.

Under normal circumstances, this trial would be what trial lawyers call a “slow plea”—that is, a trial where despite overwhelming evidence of guilt, the defendant insists on his “day in court.” In such instances, the trial happens, the jury convicts, and the judge imposes an appropriate sentence. Everyone can walk away satisfied because the defendant got to exercise his constitutional rights, he got a fair trial, and the jury followed the law and applied the facts in reaching its verdict.

But these are anything but normal circumstances. Hunter is a Biden, and the Bidens are, for lack of a better phrase, political royalty in Delaware. Delaware is the second smallest state in the country, and Hunter Biden’s father is not only the current president, but he is also the first president from Delaware. Prior to becoming president, Joe Biden was a longtime senator and vice president. Hunter Biden’s brother, who died of a brain tumor, was a veteran and the state’s attorney general.

Hunter Biden’s trial has been troubling for several reasons: the tortuous path it took to get to this point; because of what he was not charged with; the oh-so-obvious appeal by the defense to acquit him based on his last name and the fact that, like many other individuals, he struggled with addiction; and the not-so-subtle reminder to the jury that the Biden’s “own” Delaware by dint of the fact that his mother, Jill Biden, the first lady of the United States, has been sitting in the front row for all the jurors to see.

An Easy Case to Prove

Two of the three charges against Biden stem from the fact that when he purchased a handgun in 2018, he signed a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Form 4473 certifying that he was not “an unlawful user of, or addicted to, marijuana or any depressant, stimulant, narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance,” even though he clearly was, at or around that time frame, a drug addict. The third charge relates to his illegal possession of the handgun after he purchased it.

The evidence of Biden’s guilt admitted at trial is overwhelming and includes readings from his own autobiography where he admits to being addicted to illegal drugs in 2018; text messages, photos, and raunchy videos from his laptop which clearly depict a drug-addled Biden; and testimony by witnesses, including his ex-wife, former girlfriends, his daughter, the gun store owner, government experts, and others. When taken cumulatively, this is an open-and-shut case which the prosecution—not surprisingly—proved (way) beyond a reasonable doubt.

As a purely legal matter, defense attorney Abbe Lowell did what any competent, aggressive defense attorney would do in a case where his client wants his day in court and the government’s evidence against his client is overwhelming. He suggested that at the moment Biden signed the ATF form, he wasn’t under the influence of illegal drugs. He tried to get the judge to include an unorthodox jury instruction regarding whether Biden actually knew he was a drug addict when he signed the ATF forms, which the judge properly rejected. He tried to get the judge to alter the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt” language in the jury instruction, which the judge also summarily declined to do. And he tried to poke holes in various witnesses’ testimony through cross examination, seemingly to little effect.

We do not take issue with this. Every defendant, regardless of the strength of the government’s case against him, deserves an aggressive, competent, ethical defense, and that includes Biden.

Not Guilty Because I’m a Biden

Lowell is clearly hoping for jury nullification, in which the members of the jury acquit a defendant despite overwhelming evidence of guilt because they are unduly sympathetic to the defendant, are afraid of the reaction against them if they convict the president’s son, or they do not like the law that is being used to prosecute him. At the very least, Lowell is hoping that this strategy convinces at least one of the jurors to hold and not vote to convict Biden, which would lead to a mistrial.

Of course, Lowell did not make that appeal explicitly during his closing argument. He didn’t have to.

While Biden’s mother was tragically killed in a car accident when he was young—a fact that Lowell mentioned in his opening argument—Jill Biden, Hunter Biden’s longtime stepmother, sat stoically in the courtroom, surrounded by the U.S. Secret Service protective cocoon throughout the trial. That subtle show of federal government muscle is on top of Hunter Biden’s Secret Service agents scattered throughout the courtroom and courthouse, and the reason for the stepped-up security at the courthouse. Add to that the parade of Biden family members or ex-family members or former girlfriends, and the message to the jury is loud and clear: Don’t you dare.

It was so obvious that, during their closing argument, the prosecution said the following: “People sitting in the gallery are not evidence. You may recognize them from the news … but respectfully, none of that matters. … Your decision can only be made on evidence.”


If the jury follows the evidence and law, they will convict. If they don’t convict, that is their province, but it would be troubling. Their verdict, however, should be respected, either way.

Regardless of the outcome in this case, Biden’s legal troubles are not over. He has also been charged with tax evasion, and those charges are still pending in federal court in Los Angeles.

Troublesome Dithering

Of course, prior to bringing these charges, Special Counsel David Weiss dithered, causing the statute of limitations to run on some of the most serious charges that could have been filed against Biden. He also offered Biden a sweetheart deal, but it fell apart when Judge Maryellen Noreika asked some rudimentary but pointed questions about some of the particulars of that deal.

Additionally, it is clear that Weiss has no interest in pursuing potential charges that might implicate Joe Biden and other family members, having instructed the investigating agents not to pursue this line of inquiry with potential witnesses and tipping off Hunter Biden’s attorneys about where incriminating evidence might be found rather than executing search warrants to seize that material.

Friendly Home Turf

Hunter Biden has another thing going for him: the locations where these charges have been filed. He is being prosecuted in Delaware and Los Angeles (home of Vice President Kamala Harris and where Joe Biden got 71% of the vote compared to former President Donald Trump’s 27%).

No such luck, of course, for Trump.

Trump was prosecuted by Alvin Bragg, a George Soros-supported rogue prosecutor who appealed to voters by touting how he had “sued Trump more than a hundred times” in a jurisdiction where Trump is profoundly unpopular before a judge who had donated to the Biden campaign and to a group called Stop Republicans and whose daughter runs an organization that advises and raises money for the Biden-Harris campaign and other Democratic candidates.

Hunter Biden, like all criminal defendants, is presumed innocent, unless and until the government proves its case against him by legally competent evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

This was an easy case to prove, and prosecutors did their job by proving their case well beyond a reasonable doubt from our vantage point. Regardless of the jury verdict, this case has been troubling. The Justice Department, where we both worked for as federal prosecutors, grossly mishandled this case from the beginning. Only after the department’s shenanigans were exposed did this case come to trial. That does not give anyone confidence in the justice system.

The post Hunter’s Plea for Jury Nullification appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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