Hunter Biden trial highlights how addiction has become 'an everyday part of life' for many in the US.

WILMINGTON, Del. — A sister who faced credit card and drug fraud charges. A childhood best friend who overdosed on heroin. A nephew who was a scholarship athlete who became addicted to oxycontin after being injured.

As government lawyers and defenders of the president's son sought Monday to narrow a field of more than 250 Delawareans to a jury of 12 and four alternates, they heard again and again about the toll addiction had taken on many of them. those who would potentially hear a case in the darkest chapter of President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden's own battle with drug use.

Of the 65 potential jurors who walked in and out of the federal courtroom to be questioned by Judge Maryellen Noreika, at least 26 indicated that they, a family member or a close friend had been abused or addicted to drugs or alcohol , according to a review of the transcript. From that group, four were chosen for the final jury, and a fifth served as an alternate.

On Tuesday, prosecutors will begin presenting evidence in their case against Hunter Biden, aiming to show that he knowingly and illegally purchased a firearm while using illegal drugs, and failed to truthfully fill out paperwork, which requires a person to testify about your sobriety. Legally, his defense team will attempt to create doubt among jurors about that evidence and highlight his efforts to repair his life.

Politically, his father the president's campaign is counting on most Americans seeing in Hunter Biden a familiar, if difficult, reminder of the struggles of their own lives.

A source close to the president and first lady Jill Biden said they appreciated that so many jurors referenced addiction or substance abuse in their own families. They have long felt, the source added, that people understand the complexity of the dynamic on display with their son.

Another source close to the family noted that Hunter Biden had previously encouraged his father to speak openly about his addiction during the 2020 campaign. This was reflected in comments Biden made during his first debate against Donald Trump when the Republican candidate attacked Hunter Biden. That same issue in 2020 remains just as relevant in 2024, the source added.

“Hunter's resilience in the face of adversity, and the strength he has shown in his recovery, are inspiring. “Many families have loved ones who have overcome addiction and know what we mean,” Biden said in a written statement issued yesterday as the trial began.

Jill Biden, who attended the entire jury selection process, overheard a potential juror say he had served on the same jury. college community in Delaware where the first lady had taught while explaining that her spouse had addiction problems.

A woman selected as an alternate juror said that “unfortunately, being from the area,” she knew many people who suffered from addictions. “I feel like it's an everyday part of the world these days,” said.

Most, but not all, of the jurors questioned said their experience with family or friends would not prevent them from being fair and impartial in hearing the case.

“I think it would be easier for me because I went through that with my parents,” said one potential juror, who was later ruled out. “It's a disease, you know, and I don't look down on it or judge people because they have problems.”

“I think after people recover, they're going to need a second chance. “My daughter has been given a second chance, everyone needs a second chance,” another potential juror, who was also later rejected, told the court.

But at times, lawyers for the government and Hunter Biden took the opportunity to ask for more specific details to understand how it could influence his thinking.

Derek Hines, the lead prosecutor in the case, asked a woman who worked as a drug counselor if she would hold someone accountable if she was addicted. The woman had also indicated that she had family and friends who suffered from addictions, including two who were seeking rehabilitation.

“Yes,” she said.

Abbe Lowell, Hunter Biden's attorney, quickly posed the opposite scenario: “If the evidence meets the standard that the judge will tell you, could you find someone not guilty?”

“Yes,” she replied again. They later discarded it.

Another exchange involved a man who said his older brother had been addicted to PCP and heroin. When questioned, he said his brother also owned a gun.

“Do you have any opinion on whether someone like your brother, someone who is addicted to drugs, should be able to have a firearm?” Hines asked.

“No, they shouldn't,” the man responded.

“What happens to someone who has suffered that abuse and then no longer suffers it?” Lowell asked.

“Well, I think there's always room for people to change,” the man responded.

Finally he was one of the 12 selected to try the case.