Johnny Reid Edwards
Politico on December 6, 2011 released the following:
Posted by Josh Gerstein
“Lawyers for former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) are defending their plan to call two former Federal Election Commission members as witnesses at Edwards’s upcoming trial for conspiring to violate campaign finance laws in connection with more than $900,000 in payments two of his backers made to his mistress, Rielle Hunter.
Prosecutors have asked U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles to bar former commissioners Scott Thomas and Robert Lenhard from testifying as defense experts on campaign finance law. They have said they would have advised Edwards that the payments at issue in the case would not be considered political donations under federal law. However, the government has argued that determining the law is the province of the trial judge and that the facts are to be found by the jury.
However, defense lawyers Abby Lowell and Jim Cooney contend in a new court filing Monday (posted here) that presenting such experts is not only appropriate in cases involving highly technical legal fields, but that denying Edwards the right to do so would violate his fair trial rights.
The new filing suggests strongly but does not say outright that Edwards will testify in his own defense at trial, if the case gets that far.
Lowell and Cooney write:
Mr. Edwards agrees with the government that an expert cannot assume the role of a mind reader and testify as to what a defendant actually was thinking at the time of the alleged offense, and an expert cannot assume the role of the judge and instruct the jury on what the law requires. But Mr. Edwards does not intend for the Former FEC Commissioners to assume either role. Rather, Mr. Edwards intends to use the Former FEC Commissioners testimony to buttress his claim of a good faith, innocent intent through expert testimony that establishes that Mr. Edwards’ belief that his conduct did not violate the election laws was reasonable. That is something the law plainly permits, and numerous courts have found it reversible error to preclude a defendant from doing so.
Jury selection for Edwards’s trial is set to get underway Jan. 30 in Greensboro, NC.”
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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