A federal judge on Thursday ordered the employees at a dairy farm owned by the family of GOP Rep. Devin Nunes to “produce documentation concerning their immigration status” in the family’s prolonged defamation lawsuit filed against Esquire magazine and journalist Ryan Lizza, Law & Crime reported Friday.
“The lawsuit centers on the 2018 article entitled “Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret,” which alleged that the Nunes family’s dairy farm—NuStar Farms, LLC—knowingly employed undocumented workers,” noted Law & Crime.
The court singled out attorney Steven Biss—known for representing the Republican lawmaker in a series of failed defamation suits against news organizations—for his “puzzling and troubling” explanation about a deposition of a dairy farm employee.
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. ——which 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.
“Mr. Biss made a lengthy speaking objection claiming this was harassment,” Roberts wrote. “Here, where the identity and immigration status of the employees is a central issue, it is not harassing or irrelevant to ask questions about such documents. 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.”
Judge Roberts further stated that “the most puzzling and troubling aspect” of Biss’s “behavior” concerned his decision to seek a sidebar with F.S.D.’s attorney to determine “whether the witness wanted to take the Fifth Amendment.”
Roberts then ordered Biss and all other NuStar attorneys to “inform the [NuStar] employees of their obligation to search for the requested [citizenship] documents and bring the documents to the deposition,” adding that the employees “may be asked about their efforts to comply at the deposition.”
Read the order below.