John Edwards Prosecutors Face Decision Time on Whether to Call Mistress

ABC News on May 9, 2012 released the following:

By JAMES HILL, BETH LOYD and RUSSELL GOLDMAN

“The prosecution of John Edwards is near the end of its case, raising questions by observers: have they succeeded in tying Edwards’ mistress cover up to campaign funds, and will the mistress — Rielle Hunter — be called by the prosecution.

The court expects to find out by the end of today whether prosecutors will call Hunter to the stand. The prosecution has said it intends to wrap up its case by Thursday.

Before Hunter is called, the jurors can expect to hear today from Jennifer Palmieri, a former Edwards aide who was a close confidante of Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who has since died of cancer.

Palmieri was present when Elizabeth Edwards confronted her husband’s wealthy backer Fred Baron and Baron’s wife in 2007 over their support and friendship with Hunter. According to pretrial motions, John Edwards was present at that meeting.

The bigger issue, however, is whether Hunter will be called by prosecutors.

“There is one person who seems to be at the center of all of this, these spinning planets, and that’s Rielle Hunter,” Steve Friedland, professor of law at Elon University, told ABC News.

But there is a risk in calling Hunter.

“She can tie it together for them. Of course, what’s come out, she may be unreliable and who knows what she might say on the witness stand,” Friedland said.

And there are risks of not calling her.

“If they don’t call her, she will probably be called by the defense. So, in all likelihood, they will have to call her given that she is the glue here. The jury may figure, why are they not calling her?” Friedland said.

What the prosecution would want Hunter to confirm is that the cover up “was about the campaign and not just a private matter,” Friedland said.

“She’s the witness who can provide first hand knowledge. She’s dangerous for the prosecution, but sometimes you don’t get to choose your own witnesses. You have to call who’s available,” he said.

Kieran Shanahan, a former prosecutor who has been in court every day of the trial, believes the prosecution’s hand will be forced.

“I still believe, as a practical matter, the government will call Miss Hunter, and if they don’t, then certainly the defense will,” Shanahan told ABC News.

The prosecution still has to complete its case, he said, that Edwards violated federal campaign finance rules during his run for the presidency by using nearly $1 million funnelled to him to hide Hunter and her pregnancy.

Edwards claims the money was used to hide the girlfriend from his wife, not the government.

If convicted, Edwards could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

“I think the government, to bring the case home, is going to have to nail cleanly that Edwards knew what he was doing was wrong,” Shanahan said.

Both lawyers said that the testimony of many of the prosecution’s witnesses helped the defense as well as the prosecution.

“What helped the government was that he admitted that he knew money was going from Fred Baron to his daughter Quinn… But did he accept it for the campaign or to help his daughter? That is still an open issue,” Friedland said.

“Tying this to the campaign…. that hiding the money was hiding it because he didn’t want it attached to the campaign. It’s this kind of relationship that has to be bridged. Right now, the bridge is not built completely and this is called reasonable doubt,” Friedland said.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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