The National Rifle Association is moving to delay New York investigators' access to an NRA board member who accused the gun-rights group of misleading the courts in bankruptcy filings.
New York attorney general Letitia James (D.) was temporarily blocked by the NRA on Thursday from deposing NRA board member Phillip Journey after he claimed the board was not informed of the bankruptcy ahead of time. NRA lawyer Gregory Garman said at an expedited hearing in federal bankruptcy court on Monday the two sides had made progress on a deal allowing the deposition but were stuck on the amount of time the NRA would be given to review documents Journey wants James to give him.
"We have every reason to believe that, against our wishes, third parties had turned over privileged documents to the New York attorney general," he told Judge Harlin Hale. "We object to it being turned over and we requested a mere 96 hours, which is an unimaginably short amount of time to attempt to get through 1.7 million pages, before being turned over to third parties."
The attorney general's office argued in a filing on Friday that Journey's deposition was necessary to establish NRA leadership did not obtain approval for the group's bankruptcy from the board. The filing cited a Washington Free Beacon interview with Journey in which the Kansas family court judge said NRA lawyers did not inform the board about the bankruptcy plan during a Jan. 7, 2021, board meeting despite leaders having set the plan in motion months earlier. Journey accused the legal team of committing "a lie of omission of material facts to the board of directors." James's office argued that such an allegation should void the "bad faith" bankruptcy proceedings.
"In the event that the NRA purposefully hid the bankruptcy filing from its Board and sought Board approval through the trickery of placing it ambiguously into an Employment Agreement, those facts cannot be shielded by privilege," the attorney general's office said in a brief. "Those issues are at the core of what this Court needs to hear."
Journey's lawyer said the board member had not reached an agreement with either side, but said his client is willing to be deposed under the right circumstances. Journey told the Free Beacon he is "trying to cooperate with the court" and just wants to make sure the deposition is "limited to what's relevant to the case."
During the Monday hearing, Garman told Judge Hale the NRA and James's office had been "trying to come to an agreement" for Journey to give the deposition, but the timetable for reviewing the documents may have to be decided by him.
"We're trying to come to an agreement," he said. "This issue may be before you, probably will be before you, because I just simply don't know how to get through 1.7 million documents any faster, particularly since literally depositions are occurring while this hearing is taking place."
Judge Hale suggested further arguments on the document production could be made at the next hearing in the case, which is set to take place on Wednesday. That hearing will also address other issues in the case such as whether the NRA's top lawyer Bill Brewer may serve as the group's counsel despite opposition from other parties to the case.