Court rejects Hunter Biden’s appeal in gun case

Hunter Biden’s federal gun case should move forward, a US appeals court has ruled, setting the stage for the president’s son to stand trial on criminal charges next month in Delaware.

Hunter Biden’s lawyers went to the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals after the judge overseeing the case last month rejected his bid to dismiss the prosecution.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court did not rule on the merits of his claims, but said the court does not have jurisdiction to review the matter.

In an order shortly after that ruling came down, US District Judge Maryellen Noreika said the case would proceed to trial on June 3, and is expected to last three to six days.

Judge Noreika, who was appointed to the bench by former president Donald Trump, later denied another bid to dismiss the case that challenged the constitutionality of the central gun charge.

His legal team, however, suggested they will continue fighting the issue, which they can ask the full appeals court to consider.

“In reviewing the panel’s decision, we believe the issues involved are too important and further review of our request is appropriate,” defence lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in an emailed statement.

Hunter Biden has pleaded not guilty to lying about his drug use in October 2018 on a form to buy a gun that he kept for about 11 days in Delaware. He has acknowledged an addiction to crack cocaine during that period, but his lawyers have said he did not break the law.

The investigation had looked ready to wrap up with a plea deal last year, but the agreement imploded after a judge raised questions about it. Hunter Biden was subsequently indicted.

Under the deal, he would have got two years’ probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanour tax charges. He also would have avoided prosecution on the gun charge if he stayed out of trouble.

His lawyers have argued that prosecutors bowed to political pressure to indict him amid heavy criticism of the plea deal from Mr Trump and other Republicans. They had also challenged the appointment of Delaware US attorney David Weiss as special counsel to lead the prosecution.

Prosecutors countered the evidence against him was “overwhelming”, including cocaine residue found in the pouch where he stored his gun, and noted that charges had been filed during the presidency of his father.

In her ruling last month, Judge Noreika said that the defence had provided “nothing credible” to suggest that the politicians or anyone else had any impact on the special counsel, adding: “It is all speculation.”

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