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Entries in John Edwards (74)

Tuesday
May292012

John Edwards Jury Gets Stern Lecture from Judge

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The judge in John Edwards' mistress-and-money trial appeared to scold jurors Tuesday, slightly delaying a seventh day of deliberations.

Following the long weekend, jurors returned to a closed-door meeting with the judge. It is unclear what jurors did that Judge Catherine Eagles felt compelled to hold a closed door session with them, the second such hearing since Friday.

When the court reconvened, Eagles gave a longer than normal speech to the jurors, reminding them to carefully choose their words, and not to discuss the trial in small groups or outside the jury room.

It raises the possibility that juror behavior could later be grounds for an appeal.

Jurors have deliberated the case for seven days and nearly 40 hours, methodically working through six campaign-finance charges.

Edwards, a two-time presidential candidate and former senator, is accused of using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy political backers to hide his mistress and love child during his 2008 campaign.

The month-long trial concluded on May 18. A panel of eight men and four women has been deliberating ever since, breaking each day only for lunch.

If convicted Edwards face up to 30 years in prison and be fined as much as $1.5 million, although it is unlikely he would face the severest penalties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May292012

Is John Edwards Flirting with Disaster?

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- Jurors in John Edwards' campaign corruption trial get back to work Tuesday in an attempt to arrive at verdicts on six charges that could potentially put the former North Carolina senator and candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential candidate behind bars for 30 years.

Meanwhile, the judge in the case is also expected to address an "undisclosed jury issue" that may have to do with an alternate juror giving Edwards what's known as the "hairy eyeball."

ABC News reported late last week that the alternate, who's described as an attractive woman with jet-black hair, has been flirting with the defendant in the courtroom.

She supposedly smiled, giggled and blushed when looking at Edwards, who reportedly smiled back at her.

While Edwards' lawyers laughed at the obviousness of it, the flirting also didn't get past U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles, who met with the attorneys after the session Friday and plans on another meeting with them Tuesday.

The entire matter is sort of unsettling, given that Edwards is on trial for supposedly trying to cover up an extramarital affair with campaign contributions.  His wife, Elizabeth Edwards, passed away in 2010 after battling breast cancer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May252012

Is John Edwards Flirting with a Female Juror?

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- After a week of deliberations, the four alternate jurors have become the prime distraction for the assembled press corps and spectators in the courtroom.

On Thursday, the alternates -- three women and one man -- caused something of a stir when they showed up in matching bright yellow shirts, hardly bothering to suppress their snickering as the judge addressed the main panel of jurors.

For nearly four weeks, 16 jurors heard all the evidence in Edwards’ case.  After the closing arguments, Judge Catherine Eagles made the unorthodox decision to extend the service of the four alternate jurors, while the primary panel of 12 deliberated the six felony charges.  So, for the last five days of deliberations, the gang of four alternates has been required to show up at court each day, sent to a holding room with instructions to avoid talking about the case.

Since the alternates were identified last Thursday, it has been impossible to ignore the dynamic between Edwards and one of the female alternates, an attractive young woman with jet-black hair, who seems to have been flirting with Edwards for days.  She smiles at him; he smiles at her.  She giggles; he blushes.

The flirtation has become so obvious that even Edwards’ attorneys have to work to suppress their laughter at the absurdity of it all.

The jury returns on Friday to resume deliberations for a sixth day.  Edwards is accused of using nearly $1 million in campaign donations to hide his affair with his mistress Rielle Hunter.  If convicted, he could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison and fined as much as $1.5 million.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May242012

John Edwards Jury Deliberations Move On to Second Donor's Cash

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- After nearly a week of deliberations jurors in the John Edwards trial have yet to reach a verdict, methodically working their way through six criminal charges and a month's worth of testimony about how the former presidential candidate allegedly used campaign donations to cover up a torrid illicit affair.

Jurors ended their fifth day of deliberations Thursday, after requesting exhibits concerning counts 4 and 5 of the indictment, both of which deal with funds from millionaire political donor Fred Baron that were used to help hide Edwards' mistress Rielle Hunter.

Among the evidence jurors are reviewing is a note Baron wrote to Edwards' aide Andrew Young, accompanying an envelope full of cash.

"Old Chinese saying: Use cash, not credit cards," read the note, which Baron wrote in December 2007, weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

The cash was sent to a Florida hotel, where Young was staying with Hunter to keep her out of view from an increasingly inquisitive press corp.

Jurors also requested Young's bank statement, in which he had received a $20,000 deposit from Baron and another $725,000 from another wealthy Edwards supporter, millionaire heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Edwards is charged with six counts of violating federal campaign laws and was accused by the government of soliciting nearly $1 million from Baron and Mellon to finance a cover-up of his affair and illegitimate child while running for president in 2008.

For much of this week jurors focused on counts 2 and 3 of the indictment. Those charges all concerned donations Mellon made to aid the cover-up in 2007 and 2008.

Neither Baron nor Mellon testified in the case. Baron died in October 2008 of bone cancer. Mellon, who lives on a Virginia estate, is 101 years old and hard of hearing.

After doling out exhibits piecemeal as the jury requested them, Federal Judge Catherine Eagles Thursday gave the jury all the evidence in the case, a move that could help speed deliberations.

The jury has spent more than 25 hours deliberating since it was charged last Friday. They have taken breaks only for lunch.

Edwards was spotted earlier this week, pacing around a second-floor room of the courthouse, occasionally peering at the press gathered outside.

On Wednesday, he and daughter Cate attended a college baseball game in Greensboro, featuring the UNC Tarheels, his alma mater.

If convicted Edwards can face up to 30 years in prison and be fined more than $1 million, although it is unlikely he will face the most severe penalties.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May222012

John Edwards Jurors Make Little Progress in Three Days of Deliberations

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The jury in the John Edwards mistress and money trial ended its third day of deliberations Tuesday after apparently making little progress, asking to review evidence that suggests they are still focused on just one or two of the six counts with which the former presidential candidate is charged.

The panel of eight men and four women has six felony charges to consider, each of which carries a maximum penalty of five years and a $250,000 fine. Edwards is accused of soliciting money from wealthy donors to conceal his mistress and love child during his 2008 bid for the White House.

For three days, observers have noted that jurors have requested evidence relating only to the second count, and perhaps the third, that deal specifically with money obtained from 101-year-old heiress and Edwards supporter Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Tuesday evening, after nearly 16 hours of deliberations, jurors asked for two more exhibits related to Mellon. One exhibit was a letter from her lawyer Alex Forger to Edwards' aide Andrew Young. The second was a letter from Mellon to Forger.

Forger first learned that Mellon was writing checks to Young in 2007 and became suspicious about for whom the money was really intended.

Edwards was spotted waiting out the jury's decision in a second floor room of the courthouse. Reporters have spotted him pacing the room, looking out the window.

The government alleges in count two of the indictment that Edwards and Young illegally solicited the money from Mellon as part of the effort to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign.

Jurors were charged by federal Judge Catherine Eagles last Friday to first consider counts two through six of the indictment and consider the first count, dealing with conspiracy, last.

The counts the jury will consider in order are as follows:

Count 2: Illegal Campaign Contributions

During 2007 John Edwards, while a candidate for federal office, knowingly and willfully accepted and received contributions from Mellon in excess of the $4,600 limits of the Election Act (Mellon's checks in 2007 totaled $525,000).

Count 3: Illegal Campaign Contributions

Same charge and wording as count two but for calendar year 2008 (Mellon wrote one check in 2008 for $200,000).

Count 4: Illegal Campaign Contributions

Same charge and wording as count 2 but related to excess contributions from backer Fred Baron in 2007 ($61,942 in flights and hotel bills for mistress Rielle Hunter, Andrew Young and his family).

Count 5: Illegal Campaign Contributions

Same charge and wording as count two but related to contributions from Baron in 2008 ($131,143 in flights, hotel bills, home rental for the Youngs and Hunter -- the total also includes $10,000 in cash).

Count 6: False Statements

Edwards concealed from the John Edwards for President Committee hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mellon and Baron causing the committee to file FEC reports which failed to disclose those contributions

Count 1: Conspiracy

Edwards conspired with others to accept and receive excess contributions from Mellon and Baron. Edwards also concealed material facts from the John Edwards for President Committee causing the committee to file false and misleading campaign finance reports.

The jury will soon likely turn from contributions donated by Mellon to those given by Baron, before ultimately considering the conspiracy charge.

At the end of the day on Monday, the jurors informed the judge that they'd prefer to keep to a set schedule for deliberations, starting each day at 9:30 a.m. and calling it quits by about 4 p.m. The Middle District of North Carolina covers 24 counties and several of the jurors have long commutes to court each day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May212012

John Edwards Jury Stuck on 'Bunny' Money, No Verdict Yet

SKETCH BY CHRISTINE CORNELL(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The jury in John Edwards' campaign finance trial ended its second day of deliberations Monday requesting to review additional evidence, but not indicating they are any closer to reaching a verdict.

The panel of eight men and four women spent the day Monday focusing discussions on one count of the indictment dealing specifically with money obtained from 101-yeard-old heiress and Edwards supporter, Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

Monday marked the second day, since they were charged Friday, that jurors sent a note to Judge Catherine Eagles, requesting a number of trial exhibits related to funds Edwards and his associates received from Mellon in 2007.

The government alleges in count two of a six-count indictment that Edwards and his former aide Andrew Young illegally solicited the money from Mellon as part of the effort to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign. Count three of the indictment contains similar allegations, but is focused on checks Mellon wrote in January 2008, shortly before Edwards ended his quest for the nomination.

Among the exhibits the jury requested is a letter Mellon wrote in April 2007 that is sometimes referred to as the "haircut" letter. Mellon wrote the letter to Young, shortly after the press had seized on the news that Edwards had charged a $400 haircut to his campaign.

"I was sitting alone in a grim mood -- furious that the press had attacked Sen. Edwards on the price of a hair cut," Mellon's handwritten note reads. "From now on, all hair cuts, etc., that are a necessary and important part of his campaign, please send the bills to me. It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions."

Within six weeks of that letter Mellon began writing a series of personal checks that would eventually add up to $725,000 over seven months. The jury also requested copies of the first two of those two checks, which were funneled to Andrew Young through an intermediary and eventually deposited in an account in the maiden name of Young's wife, Cheri.

Edwards' defense team has argued that Young was taking advantage of Mellon, bilking her out of the money with the pretense that it was for Edwards. They noted that the vast majority of Mellon's money went to Young and his wife, who used much of it to fund the construction of their $1.6 million home.

After the jury's request on Friday, an Edwards lawyer told a clutch of reporters in the courtroom that the deliberations could take a while. The jury appears, at least at the outset, to be taking a meticulous, count-by-count approach to their discussions.

Edwards is charged with conspiracy, accepting illegal campaign contributions and making false statements. If convicted on all six counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. Practically speaking, any prison term is likely to be well below the maximum.

In addition to the money sent by Mellon, the jury must also consider the support provided to Hunter by Edwards' campaign finance chairman, Fred Baron, who funded a cross-country luxury odyssey for Hunter and the Youngs, after Andrew Young falsely claimed paternity of Edwards' child.

And they also must consider the broader question of whether the financial support provided by Mellon and Baron constitutes an illegal contribution under federal election laws.

At the close of the day the jurors informed the judge that they'd prefer to keep to a set schedule for deliberations, starting each day at 9:30 a.m. and calling it quits by about 4 p.m. The Middle District of North Carolina covers 24 counties and several of the jurors have long commutes to court each day.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May212012

John Edwards Jury Looking at 'Bunny' Money as Deliberations Continue

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The jury in John Edwards' campaign finance trial begins its second day of deliberations Monday morning in Greensboro, N.C.

The panel of eight men and four women spent about five hours behind closed doors on Friday as they began to weigh the evidence presented over nearly four weeks of testimony.

Shortly after they retired to the jury room on Friday, the jurors sent out a note to Judge Catherine Eagles, requesting a number of trial exhibits related to money provided by Virginia heiress Rachel "Bunny" Mellon in 2007.

The government alleges in count two of a six-count indictment that Edwards and his former aide Andrew Young illegally solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mellon as part of the effort to hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign.  Count three of the indictment contains similar allegations, but is focused on checks Mellon wrote in January 2008, shortly before Edwards ended his quest for the nomination.

Among the exhibits the jury requested is a letter Mellon wrote in April 2007 that is sometimes referred to as the "haircut" letter.  Mellon wrote the letter to Young, shortly after the press had seized on the news that Edwards had charged a $400 haircut to his campaign.

"I was sitting alone in a grim mood -- furious that the press had attacked Sen. Edwards on the price of a hair cut," Mellon's handwritten note reads.  "From now on, all hair cuts, etc., that are a necessary and important part of his campaign, please send the bills to me.  It is a way to help our friend without government restrictions."

Within six weeks of that letter, Mellon began writing a series of personal checks that would eventually add up to $725,000 over seven months.  The jury also requested copies of the first two of those checks, which were funnelled to Young through an intermediary and eventually deposited in an account in the maiden name of Young's wife, Cheri.

Edwards' defense team has argued that Young was taking advantage of Mellon, bilking her out of the money with the pretense that it was for Edwards.  They noted that the vast majority of Mellon's money went to Young and his wife, who used much of it to fund the construction of their $1.6 million home.

After the jury's request on Friday, an Edwards lawyer told a clutch of reporters in the courtroom that the deliberations could take a while.  The jury appears, at least at the outset, to be taking a meticulous, count-by-count approach to their discussions.

Edwards is charged with conspiracy, accepting illegal campaign contributions and making false statements.  If convicted on all six counts, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May182012

John Edwards Jury Quits for the Weekend Without a Verdict 

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- A North Carolina jury completed its first full day of deliberations without a verdict in the John Edwards' trial Friday, requesting to review pieces of evidence that could help determine the fate of the two time presidential candidate laid low by a mistress and money scandal.

The jury consists of eight men and four women. They include five African Americans, six whites and one person whose background was not clear.
A decidedly working-class group, many of the jurors have blue collar backgrounds, including three mechanics, a retired firefighter and a retired railroad engineer.

Though Edwards became a millionaire trial lawyer, his attorneys often spoke of his humble beginnings as the son of a mill worker, perhaps in an attempt to strike a chord with the jury.

Soon after being charged by federal Judge Catherine Eagles, the panel began its deliberations and requested office supplies and copies of evidence pertaining to the checks written by millionaire donor Rachel "Bunny" Mellon.

The two time presidential candidate is charged with using nearly $1 million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter and their love child during his bid for the 2008 election.

Edwards, 58, could be hit with a prison term as high as 30 years and fined up to $1.5 million if convicted of all the charges, although it is unlikely he would be hit with the most severe penalty.

In closing arguments, Edwards' lawyer Abbe Lowell told the jury that the money to hide his mistress came from Mellon and former campaign treasurer Fred Baron. Both people gave him the money as a gift for his benefit, not as part of his political campaign, Lowell argued. And the money, he said, was used to hide the affair from Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of cancer.

"John was a bad husband, but there is not the remotest chance that John did or intended to violate the law," Lowell said.

"If what John did was a crime, we'd better build a lot more court rooms, hire a lot more prosecutors and build a lot more jails," he said.

Lowell said the real culprit was Edwards' aide Andrew Young who helped hide Hunter. He claimed that Young solicited the money from Mellon and used the scandal to enrich himself. Lowell said Young, who was the prosecution's chief witness, and his wife Cheri would "shame Bonnie and Clyde."

Prosecutor Robert Higdon tried to convince the jury that Edwards was an archly ambitious politician fixated on obtaining a higher office.

"He would deny, deceive and manipulate," Higdon told the jury. "The whole scheme was cooked up to support John Edwards' political ambitions."

Neither Edwards nor Hunter took the stand during the month long trial.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May182012

John Edwards' Fate Now in Hands of Jury

Steve Exum/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- The court of public opinion has had plenty to say about John Edwards but now it's up to a jury in Greensboro, N.C., to ultimately decide the fate of the former U.S. senator, who is charged with violating campaign finance laws by allegedly using more than $1 million in donations to hide the affair and baby he fathered with mistress Rielle Hunter during his run for the 2008 presidential nomination.

If convicted on all charges, Edwards could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years behind bars.

Throughout the trial, Edwards' lawyers argued that the money he received from two wealthy donors was not campaign contributions, and therefore, he broke no laws.

During closing arguments on Thursday, defense attorney Abbe Lowell admitted Edwards was a bad husband who cheated on his wife, Elizabeth Edwards, while she was dying of cancer, but that he never did anything illegal in trying to keep his spouse from learning about his indiscretions.

Lowell also cast aspersions on Edwards' former top aide, Andrew Young, who helped his old boss keep his affair with Hunter quiet, going as far as claiming paternity for a baby he didn't father.  Lowell claimed Young enriched himself and his wife with cash gifts from heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and Fred Baron.

Prosecutor Robert Higdon countered that Young was nothing but loyal to Edwards and that the former contender for the Democratic presidential nomination abused his position of power.

As for being a bad husband to Elizabeth Edwards, Higdon agreed with that assessment but added that he went beyond a sordid affair to exploiting the public trust by breaking campaign finance laws.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May172012

John Edwards Was a 'Bad Husband,' Not a Criminal, Lawyer Argues

Sara D. Davis/Getty Images(GREENSBORO, N.C.) -- John Edwards was a bad husband who cheated on his wife while she died of cancer, but he never broke the law, his lawyer said in closing arguments Thursday.

The prosecution said Edwards was more than a bad husband. The former presidential candidate was the chief architect of a criminal scheme to illegally use campaign contributions to cover up the love affair.

Edwards, 58, is on trial for allegedly using nearly $1 million in donations from wealthy donors Fred Baron and Rachel "Bunny" Mellon to keep secret his affair with mistress Rielle Hunter in order to protect his 2008 presidential ambitions and later his hopes of winning a spot as vice president or attorney general. The jury is being asked to decide whether the money was political donations used to dupe the government or gifts from friends who helped Edwards fool his wife. If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to as much as 30 years in prison.

John Edwards remained unemotional during closing arguments, much the way he has throughout the trial, keeping his chin pressed against his crossed hands, and only occasionally looking at the jury.

Edwards never took the stand in his own defense. Nor did jurors hear directly from Rielle Hunter.

Edwards' defense lasted just three days and consisted mostly of a forensic accounting of bank statements and phone records. That testimony contrasted sharply with three weeks of prosecution witness who detailed Edwards' sordid affair, but never said Edwards had any direct knowledge that he was violating campaign finance laws.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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