Circuit Judge Don McSpadden filed an order this morning recusing from the Hunter Biden paternity case.
I’ve attempted to reach him for further explanation but been unsuccessful. He hasn’t responded to other questions about the case.
His brief notice said he was stepping off the case pursuant to the administrative plan of the 16th Judicial Circuit, which covers Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard and Stone counties.
He steps down with a hearing scheduled next week in the case and also with two motions of intervention pending. In the case, Lunden Alexis Roberts of Independence County is seeking a declaration of paternity and child support from Biden for a year-old child. Biden’s attorneys have conceded a DNA test indicates Biden is the father.
McSpadden sits in Division Two of the circuit, one of four judgeships in the circuit. The administrative plan approved by the Arkansas Supreme Court for 2020-21 gives all domestic relations cases to Division Two, but says all judges can handle all cases as needs arise. It also says that in the event of a recusal, the case passes in turn to Divisions One, Four and Three. That would, respectively, be Judges Holly Meyer of Heber Springs, Tim Weaver of Mount Pleasant and Lee Harrod of Heber Springs. If all judges in the circuit recused, the chief of the Supreme Court would appoint a replacement.
I’ve also attempted to reach attorneys in the case.
There are no filings on-line at the moment on who’ll handle the case going forward and whether the change affects the current schedule.
Biden’s first attorneys in the case, from Dustin McDaniel’s law firm, withdrew from the case earlier because of an unspecified conflict.
UPDATE: Roberts’ attorney Clint Lancaster commented:
One of the clearest indicators of a judge’s integrity is when he or she recuses from a case. It highlights the ethos and values that make the judiciary such a powerful, separate branch of government. Our client sincerely thanks Judge McSpadden for his time and attention to what has become a difficult and convoluted child support matter.
The case, according to the administrative plan, should go to the Honorable Holly Meyer.
It seems likely the Jan. 7 hearing date will change, Lancaster said. That was the date set as a matter of routine for Judge McSpadden to hear cases in Independence County. The four judges travel to multiple counties.
Lancaster said he’d be requesting a hearing from Meyer in the coming days.
Meyer has experience as a former prosecutor and counsel for the Department of Human Services. She first sat on the bench filling a vacancy by appointment of Gov. Asa Hutchinson and then was elected to her current seat.