The Independence County Court House. Jimmy Emerson, Creative Commons

Hunter Biden, the embattled son of President Joe Biden, must appear in person at the Independence County Courthouse for a May 1 contempt hearing related to his Arkansas paternity case, a judge ordered today.

The child, known in court filings as Baby Doe, was born in 2018. The following year, Lunden Alexis Roberts filed a paternity claim alleging that Hunter Biden was the father of her child. A DNA test later confirmed it, Circuit Judge Holly Meyer ruled in January 2020. In March of that year, the parties agreed to a settlement, but last year Hunter Biden asked the court to adjust his child support payments, which reopened the case.

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Clint Lancaster, the ultra-right wing lawyer representing Roberts, then filed a motion to change the now 4-year-old child’s last name to Biden. It’s hard not to read the Republican obsession with Hunter Biden into the motion:

That the Biden name is now synonymous with being well educated, successful, financially acute, and politically powerful.

That this child’s father was a wildly successful businessman, acquiring seats on the board of a foreign corporation making a good salary, fundraising from overseas investors, working for large credit card companies, acting as a powerful lobbyist, and is now, apparently, a famous artist.

More lately, the two sides have been fighting over discovery, the legal process where lawyers get access to opposing counsel’s evidence.

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Meyer today considered a motion from Hunter Biden’s attorney Brent Langdon that she enter a temporary restraining order to prevent Garrett Ziegler, a former Trump aide who has been designated an expert witness by Lancaster in the child support case, from publicly sharing personal financial information.

Meyer had previously entered a privacy order in the case, requiring that “all information about or related to child support including affidavits of financial means is confidential information or confidential financial information and shall be sealed.”

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Langdon said that Ziegler had publicly bragged about serving as an expert witness in the paternity case and shared information found on Hunter Biden’s tax returns. “What’s happened is Mr. Ziegler is riding along with the horse that the plaintiff is on to use this court as his podium to continue his attacks on the Biden family,” Langdon said. Ziegler touts himself as the foremost attacker of the Bidens, Langdon said. It would be ludicrous to  provide him with sensitive information about Hunter Biden that’s under investigation elsewhere, Langdon said.

But Lancaster said the tax return information Ziegler had shared came from Hunter Biden’s infamous abandoned laptop. He also managed to work in references to Ashley Biden’s diary, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

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Is the information on your client’s laptop or not? Meyer asked.

Langdon said he wasn’t involved in that matter. “It’s not his laptop as far as I know,” he said.

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In order to settle such basic facts, Meyer said both parties would be expected to attend every forthcoming hearing. “You can’t shuck and jive on these issues,” she said. “We need answers, and we need to move forward.”

On May 1, Meyer will hold a hearing on Hunter Biden’s motion to prevent Ziegler from serving as an expert witness and on Roberts’ motion to hold Hunter Biden in contempt for not complying with discovery.

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The trial on Hunter Biden’s petition to reduce the child support amount and Roberts’ request to change the child’s last name to Biden is scheduled for July 24-25 in Independence County.

Elsewhere today, Hunter Biden’s legal team has asked the Treasury Department to investigate Ziegler for circulating federal banking records linked to Biden.

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