Judge Who Will Sentence Hunter Biden Kept Trial Moving

Judge Who Will Sentence Hunter Biden Kept Trial Moving


The judge who oversaw Hunter Biden’s federal firearms case — and will ultimately decide his sentence — is Maryellen Noreika, a no-nonsense Trump appointee who uncovered holes in an earlier plea agreement and is the main reason he stood trial.

Judge Noreika, a 57-year-old former patent and intellectual property litigator, has served on the United States District Court for the District of Delaware since 2017. She is not an especially high-profile figure in the legal community of the country’s second-smallest state. She had not worked on criminal cases or presided over a courtroom before President Donald J. Trump nominated her to the federal bench during his first year in office.

She acted swiftly on motions and moved the case along, rejecting repeated requests for postponements by Mr. Biden’s legal team. But Judge Noreika did not schedule a date for Mr. Biden’s sentencing after he was found guilty on all three felony counts on Tuesday, although she said that it typically takes place within 120 days of a verdict.

David C. Weiss, the special counsel, flanked by Leo Wise and Derek Hines, the two prosecutors who oversaw the trial, reiterated Tuesday that he brought the case because nobody “is above the law” — but also suggested the government would not seek a sentence more severe than for any other person convicted in such a case.

In a stunning hearing last July, Judge Noreika uncovered holes in a proposed plea deal between the Justice Department and Mr. Biden that offered him broad immunity — scuttling a plea deal that would have settled tax and gun charges against Mr. Biden.

In the succeeding weeks, Mr. Weiss indicted Mr. Biden for firearms offenses in Delaware and for failure to pay his taxes in California. The judge overseeing the pending tax case, Mark C. Scarsi, was also nominated by Mr. Trump. He started in the middle district of California in September 2020.

Judge Noreika’s judicial record, publications, campaign donations and interviews with those who know her show that she displayed early leadership and a strong work ethic as a law student before a long career as a patent litigator.

Born in Pittsburgh, she graduated from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, earned a master’s degree in biology from Columbia University, finished law school in 1993, then moved from associate to partner at the Wilmington firm of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell. Over two decades, she tried more than 30 cases there, mainly patent and intellectual property disputes, before joining the federal bench.

Although she was nominated by Mr. Trump, she was recommended to him by Delaware’s two Democratic senators. During her nomination hearing in February 2018, Judge Noreika said she admired judges who were “always prepared” and who made people “feel like they’ve been listened to and been given a fair shot.”

Federal campaign records show that she has contributed to candidates from both political parties, including Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, and Hillary Clinton during her 2008 campaign for president. Judge Noreika was registered as a Democrat from 2000 until 2020, when she changed her registration to no party affiliation.

Judge Noreika also presided over a Biden-related case in March 2023, when she threw out part of a defamation lawsuit brought by the owner of a Delaware computer repair shop where Mr. Biden left his laptop in 2019. Mr. Biden and his father’s presidential campaign were among the defendants in the suit, which Judge Noreika sent back to the state’s Superior Court.



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