Where in the World Is Henry Asbill?

, The Litigation Daily

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Desert traverse
Desert traverse

The fall of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell raises plenty of serious questions. Did McDonnell and his wife blatantly break the law, as prosecutors claim, by accepting over $140,000 (and thousands more in gifts) from then–Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams? Did Maureen McDonnell have an inkling that allegedly getting Williams to pay for luxury shopping sprees could land her and her husband in jail? Can the McDonnells evade the charges by attacking a former aide turned key witness?

For now, here's the not-so-serious question that's eating us: Where in the world is the former governor's lawyer, Henry Asbill of Jones Day?

On Wednesday Asbill's cocounsel at Holland & Knight, John Brownlee, filed a motion to delay for one week the McDonnells' initial appearance, which was scheduled for this Friday in federal court in Richmond. Brownlee explained that Asbill was vacationing outside the country to celebrate his wife's birthday, and wasn't scheduled to return until late Friday night.

For all you hardworking lawyers thinking Asbill should have just apologized to his wife and booked an earlier flight, there's more to the story. Brownlee didn't say where the Asbills had gone, exactly. But he explained to the judge that the return trip from their getaway is "unusually difficult." And how:

"To return to Washington, D.C., travelers must take three airplane flights and a boat ride," Brownlee wrote. "[To attend Friday's appearance] the first flight he would have to take, following a boat-ride, would be on a four-seat airplane that is generally booked far in advance. … And even if such travel were physically possible, there is no question that it would be extremely expensive."

Despite the prosecution's assent to the delay, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Novak denied the motion the same day, ruling that the McDonnells' initial appearance and arraignment would proceed Friday as planned. (Maureen McDonnell is represented by William Burck and Stephen Hauss of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.)

Does the judge's order mean that Asbill is now stowed away on some West Indian fishing boat, or rafting down a ravine in the Himalayas or the Amazon, racing to catch a cargo plane from a muddy airstrip somewhere? Or will he decide the trip is too much, and let Brownlee handle their client's first appearance solo?

Alas, neither Brownlee nor Asbill responded to a request for comment, so the nature of Asbill's trek home is just another unanswered question for now.

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