Election Law, John Edwards, Jury Duty, Trials, White-Collar Crime

Breaking: John Edwards Verdict Is In

The verdict is in — and we’re not just talking about vanity license plates for luxury cars. We’re talking about the jury in the prosecution of former senator John Edwards, vice-presidential nominee turned disgraced philanderer, for alleged violations of campaign finance law.

So, what did the jury decide? Let’s find out.

Acquitted on one count. Mistrial as to the other five counts. Here’s a report from the New York Times:

The jury in the federal campaign finance case against former Senator John Edwards said Thursday that it had found him not guilty on one of the six counts against him, and the judge declared a mistrial on the others.

The verdict came on the third count, which involved donations from the heiress Rachel Mellon. Mrs. Mellon gave more than $725,000 to help Mr. Edwards during his 2008 presidential campaign, during which large sums were spent to cover up an affair between Mr. Edwards and a former staff videographer, Rielle Hunter, with whom he conceived a daughter.

The third count involves a $200,000 check Mrs. Mellon wrote in 2008 as the Edwards campaign was collapsing. The check was not cashed until after the campaign had ended.

The verdict as to this count makes sense. Since the campaign was pretty much dead at the time the check was cut, and actually dead by the time the check was cashed, it was tough to show a violation of campaign finance laws.

How should the verdict — and mistrials — be viewed? From the Washington Post:

The verdict on one count and the mistrial on the other charges represents some measure of vindication for Edwards who has suffered through a long, slow tumble from grace after revelations in 2008 of the extramarital affair he tried to conceal during his 2008 presidential campaign. But it’s still unlikely to rehabilitate the irretrievably tarnished legacy of a political star who came within a few swing states of ascending to the vice presidency in 2004 when he was the running mate of presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

According to the Post’s account of the atmosphere in the courtroom today, it sounds like Edwards was more relieved than thrilled with the outcome:

When the decision was read by the clerk, Edwards’s face betrayed no emotion, but he slumped back in his chair. Moments later, he turned to his parents, Wallace and Bobbie Edwards, and they smiled at him broadly.

When the jury left the courtroom, Edwards rose and leaned across the bar in a long embrace with his daughter, Cate Edwards, who has been in the courtroom almost every day through a grueling trial.

That embrace was followed by another long hug with his parents, tears welling in his aging mother’s eyes. Afterward, Edwards stepped behind a door in the courtroom, disappearing from view, but his parents remained behind in the front row where they had just seen their son avert a long prison sentence. Asked how he felt, Wallace Edwards pointed at his smile. “This says it all,” he said.

Will the feds go for a retrial? According to Carrie Johnson ‏of NPR, it “ain’t gonna happen” — which would really give the Edwards family good reason to smile.

For Edwards, Mistrial on 5 of 6 Counts [New York Times]
Mistrial declared in John Edwards corruption case; jurors deadlocked on 5 of 6 counts [Washington Post]

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