An Iowa judge has ordered employees at a dairy farm owned by the father and brother of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) to provide proof of their immigration status for the family's defamation suit against Esquire Magazine and journalist Ryan Lizza, regarding a 2018 article titled "Devin Nunes's Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret," which claims the Nunes family's dairy farm knowingly employed undocumented workers, Law&Crime reports.
"The eight-page order from U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Roberts of the Northern District of Iowa came in response to a motion filed by attorneys representing Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. (Hearst owns and publishes Esquire) concerning their first attempt to depose one of the dairy farm employees, who is referred to as F.S.D. in court documents," Law&Crime's Jerry Lambe writes. "Esquire's filing complained that during the deposition of F.S.D., attorney Steven Biss 'asserted argumentative objections that were disruptive and intended to intimidate or coach the witness' when counsel tried to question F.S.D. about legal documents that bore his signature. Biss denied the accusation, saying he only 'intended to call out the Defendants' overt harassment of the NuStar employee.' But Judge Roberts called Biss's explanation 'puzzling and troubling.'"
According to U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Roberts, Biss's claims of harassment are a non-starter, since asking questions about the central issue behind a lawsuit does not amount to harassment.
"In the context of this case, it is not conducive to obtaining truthful answers from an employee such as F.S.D. to have his employer's lawyer making lengthy, animated objections to those questions," Roberts said, adding that "the most puzzling and troubling aspect" of Biss's "behavior" was his decision to seek a sidebar with F.S.D.'s attorney to determine "whether the witness wanted to take the Fifth Amendment."
Read the full report over at Law&Crime.