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Hunter Biden trial off to fast start, with a jury picked in just a day

In World
June 04, 2024

WILMINGTON, Delaware — Hunter Biden’s trial is moving fast.

After just one day of proceedings, Judge Maryellen Noreika swore in a panel of 12 ordinary-but-eclectic Delawareans, plus four alternate jurors, to determine whether the president’s son is guilty of illegally buying a gun while using drugs.

Jury selection in politically sensitive and high-profile cases can stretch for days. But on Monday, the entire group was locked in, paving the way for opening statements to begin Tuesday.

The panel is a cross-section of the state. It includes jurors with friends or family who have struggled with substance abuse — which is at the heart of the criminal case against Biden. And, in a dynamic that may help the tabloid-dogged son of the president, several said they were not fans of the news media.

Jurors will convene at the Wilmington federal courthouse, named after J. Caleb Boggs — a former Delaware senator who lost his 1972 reelection bid to a young challenger named Joe Biden.

Prospective jurors fielded questions about their backgrounds and beliefs from Noreika, Biden’s lead defense lawyer Abbe Lowell, and Justice Department prosecutor Derek Hines, who works under special counsel David Weiss. Lowell and Hines rarely asked more than a question or two.

Asked about their media habits — an important consideration in the high-profile case – jurors cited a wide range of sources. One said she primarily got her news from her father and X. Another cited YouTube. A third said she makes a point to avoid news, at least at work.

“They have the news on all day, but I put airpods in my ears so I don’t have to listen to it,” she said. “It’s depressing.”

Most jurors did not reveal their occupations during jury selection.

The jurors expressed a variety of views on guns. The subject is relevant because Biden is charged with illegally owning a gun as a drug user and with lying about his drug use on a government form he filled out when he bought the weapon. One juror is licensed to carry concealed weapons and owns multiple. Another, whose home was burglarized, also owns a gun. A third said she believes people who use marijuana should not be barred from owning guns — because she views it as less dangerous than narcotics. Another said drug users shouldn’t be able to own guns, but that former users should have that right.

The defendant’s national notoriety and his family’s local ties complicated jury selection. Some candidates were excused because they said their familiarity with Hunter Biden’s public travails could affect their impartiality. Others said they had met people close to the First Family.

“As soon as I read who it was against, I kind of laughed,” said one potential juror. “Like, oh great!”

She was promptly excused.

Another candidate said her husband had been close friends with Beau Biden, Hunter’s older brother who died of cancer in 2015.

“Beau was a friend of the family, and a very good man,” she said, visibly emotional. “We miss him.”

She was also excused.

A third contender, who was removed during the peremptory challenge process, donated to a candidate who ran against Beau Biden for Delaware attorney general.

And another — also removed from the pool by a peremptory challenge — said that in the president’s home state it was impossible to avoid news about the Biden family.

“I live in Delaware,” he said. “You can’t swing a cat without hearing something.”

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