According to court documents filed this week, attorneys for Rep. Eric Swalwell
(D-Calif.) are having so much trouble reaching Rep. Mo Brooks
(R-Ala.) to serve him with a lawsuit
about his role in the Capitol
rioting that they have hired a private investigator who is also having difficulty.
Swalwell filed suit in March against several Republicans
who spoke at President Donald Trump
's rally on Jan. 6, including the former president. The congressman was inside the Capitol to formally certify the election
results when it was attacked by a wave of Trump supporters
in a riot that left five people
According to the documents, Swalwell's attorneys were able to contact everyone named in the suit except Brooks, despite their attempts to call and email his office.
There is no doubt
that Brooks is aware of the lawsuit; he tweeted about it hours after it was filed, labeling it "meritless" and, later, "frivolous."
However, federal rules require that lawsuits be served within a specific time frame, and with time running out before the June 5 deadline to serve Brooks, Swalwell requested an extension on Wednesday.
Amit Mehta, the judge, then extended his sentence by 60 days.
However, the judge refused Swalwell's request that the US Marshals Service intervene, citing "separation of powers concerns," according to CNN
measures put in place after the Jan. 6 riots have made it more difficult to get physically close enough to a sitting member of Congress to serve them with a lawsuit. Swalwell has “had to engage the services of a private investigator to attempt to serve Brooks personally,” his attorneys wrote.
“Indeed, until very recently, public access to the Capitol grounds – including the Rayburn House
Office Building, where Brooks’ office is located – was completely cut off, with only Members of Congress and their credentialed staff having access,” they continued.
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 denied Swalwell's request that the U.S. Marshals Service or another court-designated individual be allowed to serve the suit, implying that the private investigator's work
is now cowed.
Alternatively, defendants named in lawsuits can waive their right to be served formally, but Swalwell's attorneys have received no indication that Brooks would sign such a waiver.
A copy of an email sent by Swalwell attorney Philip Andonian to Brooks' top staffers went unanswered, according to the filing.
“We are already in contact with counsel for the other defendants in the case, all of whom have agreed to waive service, and we are now attempting to reach an agreement on a reasonable schedule for the defendants’ responses to the complaint; Mr. Brooks’ participation in that process would help to streamline things,” Andonian wrote in an email on April 21.