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Addiction, politics common topics at Hunter Biden jury selection

WILMINGTON, Del. — Jury selection for the trial of President Biden’s son Hunter turned Monday into an impromptu but painful indictment against the country’s drug epidemic, with person after person recounting in court their loved ones’ battles with addiction.

Judge Maryellen Noreika swore in a dozen jurors — plus four alternates — to determine the legal fate of Hunter Biden, who is on trial on three felony gun charges just months before his father runs for re-election. term in the White House in November.

A substitute teacher, a former Secret Service employee and several gun owners were among those chosen to appear in court Tuesday morning, when closing arguments are expected to begin. Six jurors chosen were men. Six were women. Most were people of color and their ages appeared to range from their twenties to their sixties.

During the pre-screening and selection hours, Hunter Biden sat with his attorney at the defense table, while his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, first lady Jill Biden and several other relatives and family friends sat nearby in the gallery.

The responses of dozens of potential jurors to questions asked in open court reflected some of the most prevalent and controversial issues in American society, with jurors discussing their views on gun ownership and their distrust of gun ownership. with regard to the judicial process.

And in a trial in which the defendant went public with his battle with drug addiction, jurors told the court about similar battles waged by their parents, children and friends.

Many offered their own version of a written statement from President Biden, who was in Wilmington on Monday but did not come to the courthouse. He said he found his son’s recovery from addiction inspiring and knew many families of addicts could relate to Hunter Biden’s journey.

‘My daughter got a second chance,’ said one prospective juror who was not chosen for the jury, but like many others, said his experience of watching a family member struggle with drugs would not prevent him from judging Hunter Biden fairly. “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

Biden faces three criminal charges related to a gun he purchased in 2018. A four-page indictment accuses him of making two false statements while completing paperwork required to purchase the gun. He allegedly claimed not to be addicted to or use illegal drugs, the indictment states, “when in reality, as he knew, this statement was false and fictitious.” He then allegedly claimed his statement was true and illegally possessed the gun for 11 days as a drug user.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, the maximum sentence for the most serious crime listed in the indictment is 10 years in prison, although as a first-time offender he would likely face much less.

The gun trial brought Hunter Biden back to his hometown of Wilmington — the city where he grew up, where his older brother died in 2015 of brain cancer and where prosecutors allege he was a drug addict when he bought a Colt revolver. At the time, he was romantically involved with his brother’s widow, Hallie Biden, who found the gun in his truck and threw it in the trash at an upscale grocery store. According to text messages that prosecutors plan to introduce as evidence, she did so because she feared for her safety.

Many jurors said they had read or seen headlines about Hunter Biden’s gun case over the years in local and national media, but few said they had delved into the details. One woman, who was selected as an alternate juror, said she first learned Hunter Biden was going to stand trial Monday when her father briefed her on his ride to the courthouse.

She told the court that many of her relatives are gun owners and that she has lost several friends to drug addiction. “I feel like it’s an everyday part of the world these days,” she said.

A few potential jurors said they knew the Biden family personally since they lived in Delaware. A retired police officer who donated to the Republican National Committee said he worked at the same school as Jill Biden and had crossed paths with Joe Biden at events over the years. A bartender had served drinks to Hunter Biden’s uncle — who was in the courtroom Monday — on several occasions at a Delaware bar. Another potential juror had coached Hunter Biden’s brother’s children in youth sports. And one woman said she knew Hunter and Hallie Biden socially.

The four people who said they had personal relationships with the family were excluded from the jury.

“Delaware is a small place,” one potential juror said.

A number of respondents said their political views influenced their opinion on the matter and were excused after acknowledging they didn’t like what they heard about Hunter Biden. One potential juror said she laughed when she realized what the case was because she remembered media coverage of the Biden family when Joe Biden ran for president in 2020. When When asked for her opinion of Hunter, she replied, “Not a good one.”

Hunter Biden was also charged in Los Angeles last year with failing to report and pay at least $1.4 million in federal taxes from 2016 to 2019, tax evasion and filing false tax returns. Three of the charges are misdemeanors; six are misdemeanors. This case is expected to go to trial in September.

Although the two indictments are separate, they arise from the same troubled period of his life, share some of the same evidence, and are again closely related. Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss began investigating Hunter Biden’s business dealings during the Trump administration, but did not bring any charges related to those activities.

Last summer, Biden reached a tentative deal with prosecutors to plead guilty in Delaware to two tax-related misdemeanor charges and admit to a gun charge. This deal fell apart after Noreika questioned some of its terms.

Shortly afterward, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Weiss as special counsel — a move that gave the prosecutor clear authority to bring charges outside of Delaware and paved the way for a tax indictment in California.

The trial in Delaware is expected to last two weeks, with prosecutors saying they could call a dozen witnesses. The testimony could become deeply personal and reopen some of the most painful moments from the Biden family’s past.

In his statement Monday, President Biden said, “I will not comment or comment on ongoing federal matters, but as a father, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him and a respect for his strength. »

During each test break, Hunter Biden kissed his wife and mother on the cheek.

As he waited for jury selection to begin in the morning, he greeted the first lady with a wry joke. “Happy birthday,” he said.

“I gave you a special event.”

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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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