Pettifoggery?

Those who are following special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election are aware of the fact that 13 Russian citizens and 3 Russian businesses have been indicted for allegedly interfering with the election. Since all of the individuals and entities that are facing charges are in Russia, nobody really thought that that any of them would appear in court. Now, one entity has appeared by and through the law firm of Reed Smith, LLP out of Pittsburgh. The law firm is representing corporate defendant Concord Management.

Upon filing its appearance on behalf of Concord Management, Reed Smith filed numerous disclosure requests seeking facts and documents that aren’t available to the general public involving sensitive information into the alleged Russian interference probe. Concord Management is to be arraigned shortly, but now, Mueller’s team has asked that the arraignment be put over to another date. The basis of the teams’ motion was that regardless of the fact that Concord Management had generally appeared in the case through its attorneys, the prosecution wanted to be sure that the company had been properly served.

What comes to issue is the fact that a defendant can waive service under the circumstances by generally appearing through its attorneys. The prosecution argued that Concord Management’s attorneys have sought production of “sensitive intelligence gathering, national security and foreign affairs information.” Concord Management’s attorneys argued that the company voluntarily and generally appeared through counsel as opposed to entering a special and limited appearance contesting jurisdiction. Concord Management’s attorneys further advised that the company intends to enter a not guilty plea at the time of arraignment. They went on to say that the special counsel’s motion to continue Concord Management’s arraignment pettifoggery.

Pettifoggery might be defined as quibbling over trifles or trivia. Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed with Concord Management’s attorneys, and the arraignment date stands. Whether special counsel intends on disclosing the information sought by Concord Management’s attorneys remains to be seen. It’s likely that special counsel will object to the scope of the disclosure request due to national security concerns. That will prompt a motion to compel production of the documents sought. Judge Friedrich will then be called upon to rule on any such objection.

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