A federal court has ruled that Hunter Biden will have to appear in person for the first hearing in a firearms case against him.
Biden had motioned to make his first hearing and arraignment by video conference, but Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke said the opening events of the case need to be in person, in the courtroom.
"Although initial appearances in criminal matters are often short in duration, the Court has always considered them to be important," Burke wrote. "In part, that is because the hearing is one of the few occasions in a criminal case when a defendant physically appears in Court, before a judge — in a setting that helps to emphasize the 'integrity and solemnity of a federal proceeding.'"
In the ruling, Judge Burke said that with the exception of special circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, he could not recall a case in 12 years on the court in which first hearings were conducted remotely.
Federal prosecutors indicted Biden on three firearms charges last week.
Two of the charges stem from a false statement Hunter Biden allegedly gave a gun dealer in Delaware in 2018. Prosecutors said in the indictment that Biden provided a written statement on Form 4473 certifying he was not an unlawful user of any narcotic drug, or any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.
In a third charge, prosecutors alleged that Biden knowingly possessed a firearm while unlawfully using a narcotic.
Biden's court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 26.
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