Attorneys for Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) are having so much difficulty reaching Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) to serve him a lawsuit about his role in the Capitol rioting that they have hired a private investigator ― who has also not had much luck, according to court documents filed this week.
Swalwell filed suit back in March against several Republicans who spoke at President Donald Trump’s rally on Jan. 6, including the former president. The congressman was among those inside the Capitol for the purpose of formally certifying the election results when it was attacked by a wave of Trump supporters in a riot that left five people dead. He alleges that the defendants ― Trump, Brooks, Donald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani ― violated his civil rights.
Swalwell’s attorneys have been able to get in touch with everyone named in the suit except Brooks, according to the documents, which allege they have tried calling and emailing his office to no avail.
There is no question Brooks knows about the lawsuit. Hours after it was filed, he tweeted about it, labelling the suit “meritless” and, later, “frivolous.”
But federal rules stipulate that lawsuits must be served within a certain time frame. With time running out before the June 5 deadline to serve Brooks, Swalwell asked Wednesday for an extension.
Judge Amit Mehta then granted him another 60 days.
The judge did not, however, agree to Swalwell’s request that U.S. Marshals Service get involved, citing “separation of powers concerns.”
Security measures implemented after the Jan. 6 riots have made it harder to get physically close enough to a sitting member of Congress to serve them a lawsuit. Swalwell has “had to engage the services of a private investigator to attempt to serve Brooks personally ― a difficult feat under normal circumstances,” his attorneys wrote.
They went on: “Indeed, until very recently, public access to the Capitol grounds ― including the Rayburn House Office Building, where Brooks’ office is located ― has been completely cut off, with only Members of Congress and their credentialed staff having access.”
Despite spending “many hours over many days in April and May at locations in multiple jurisdictions attempting to locate and serve Brooks,” the private investigator had not been successful as of Wednesday. Judge Mehta declined Swalwell’s request that the U.S. Marshals Service or another court-designated individual be allowed to serve the suit ― meaning the private investigator now has their work cut out for them.
Alternatively, defendants named in lawsuits can waive their right to be formally served, but Swalwell’s attorneys have received no indication that Brooks would like to sign such a waiver.
Included in the filing was a copy of an email Swalwell attorney Philip Andonian sent to Brooks’ top staffers, which went unanswered.
“We are already in contact with counsel for the other defendants in the case, all of whom have agreed to waive service, and we now are attempting to reach an agreement on a reasonable schedule for the defendants’ responses to the complaint. It would help to streamline things to have Mr. Brooks’ participation in that process,” read the email from Andonian, dated April 21.
Since the riot, Brooks has done his part to push the idea that fueled the violence ― the idea that President Joe Biden stole the election from President Trump. He numbers among the nearly 140 elected Republicans who voted both to overturn the results of the election and, months later, to crush a bipartisan commission that would investigate the subsequent rioting.
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