John Edwards Defense Relies on Definition of ‘The’

May 14, 2012

ABC News on May 14, 2012 released the following:

By JAMES HILL and BETH LOYD

“Not since Bill Clinton challenged the definition of “is” has so much hinged on a very short word.

John Edwards appears to basing much of his defense, which begins today in a North Carolina courtroom, on the legal interpretation of the word “the.”

Edwards has listened to three weeks of testimony meant to prove that he violated federal campaign finance laws by using nearly $1million in donations to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter and her pregnancy during his bid for the 2008 presidential election and in the months after he dropped out — but was still angling to be vice president or attorney general.

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

The statute governing illegal receipt of campaign contributions “means any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money… for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office.”

The words “the purpose” suggests that in order for a conviction, the sole reason for the money would have to be to finance a presidential campaign.

Edwards’ legal team has argued he did not know it might be illegal, did not intend to break the law and that his main reason for hiding Hunter was to keep her secret from his wife, Elizabeth, who was dying of breast cancer.

Prosecutors, however, are arguing the law should be interpreted to mean “a purpose,” meaning use of the donations does not have to be solely for a political campaign.

“It is sufficient under the law if you find that the gift, purchase, or payment was made for, among other purposes, the purpose of influencing any election for federal office,” prosecutors argued in court filings last week.

Edwards’ lawyer Abbe Lowell has argued that prosecutors are asking the jury to “invent a new crime” with its interpretation of the law.

Edwards’ legal team will begin its defense today, which is expected to last a week. He may have a lot to overcome. Prosecutors concluded their case last week by showing an interview Edwards gave to ABC News’ “Nightline” program in which he clearly lied several times, including denying that he had fathered Hunter’s baby.

Judge Catherine Eagles also rejected a motion by Edwards’ team to dismiss the charges against him.

The defense is expected to go after the prosecution’s key witness Andrew Young, a former Edwards’ aide who helped hide Hunter, going on the road with her to keep her away from the press, even claiming paternity for his boss.

Edwards defense has argued that much of the money was solicited by Young and he used the scandal to enrich himself.

Among Edwards’ witnesses will likely be his daughter Cate, who has been his most visible supporter throughout the trial.

Hunter is on Edwards’ list of witnesses, but it’s not clear whether she will be called. Her presence in the courtroom could be volatile.

It’s not yet known whether Edwards will take the stand in his own defense.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Prosecution Rests After Presenting Video of Edwards’s Lies About His Affair

May 11, 2012

The New York Times on May 10, 2012 released the following:

“By KIM SEVERSON

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Prosecutors rested their case against former Senator John Edwards on Thursday, offering as their last piece of evidence a national television interview he did in 2008 in which he denied much about the affair that ultimately brought him to the federal courtroom here.

Watching Mr. Edwards watch himself lie was the most electric moment yet in a three-week trial that has been relatively light on federal campaign law and heavy on dramatic narrative.

Mr. Edwards, 58, faces six counts of conspiracy and violating campaign laws. The Department of Justice contends he illegally used at least $925,000 in money from two wealthy donors to hide his mistress and their child as he pursued the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.

The actual amount spent keeping the affair from his family and the public is well over a million dollars, but the government is focusing only on money spent until he suspended his campaign at the end of January 2008.

The affair had begun a couple of years earlier, but remained largely a rumor. The National Enquirer ran an article in October 2007 about the affair that was ignored by other news media. But when it published a photograph of Mr. Edwards holding his baby in a Beverly Hills hotel, the story took on a new life.

Instead of admitting it, Mr. Edwards allowed an aide to claim paternity. The aide, Andrew Young, then took his own family and Mr. Edwards’s pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, on the run, eventually ending up renting a mansion for about $20,000 a month in Santa Barbara, Calif. The baby, Frances Quinn Hunter, was born in February 2008, a month after Mr. Edwards suspended his run for the presidency. As the race between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama progressed, Mr. Edwards still held out hope for a position as attorney general or eventually as a Supreme Court justice.

By that August, with the Democratic National Convention weeks away, he thought he could make the story go away by confessing to a brief affair but deny that the baby, at that point 6 months old, was his.

So he asked Jennifer Palmieri, his former press secretary and a close friend of his wife, Elizabeth, to help arrange an interview on the ABC News program “Nightline” with the reporter Bob Woodruff, who has attended the trial nearly every day.

Mr. Edwards was going to use a “thread the needle” strategy, said Ms. Palmieri, who is now a deputy director of communications for the White House.

That is, he would confess to a brief affair and claim that it was over and that he and his wife had reconciled. He would deny both that the baby was his and that he arranged to pay to support Ms. Hunter.

Ms. Palmieri advised him against it. She had come to believe the baby was his.

“I told him I didn’t think he should do an interview if he was going to lie,” she told the court. “He didn’t need any more press attention at this point.”

She knew his political career was essentially over, she testified Wednesday.“He was deluded for thinking otherwise,” she said.

Still, he went ahead with the interview. It played for nearly 20 minutes on screens around the courtroom, including one on the defense table directly in front of him.

Mr. Edwards watched a younger, happier-looking version of himself sitting forward in a chair in his Chapel Hill home, taking question after question.

Was the affair over? “Oh, yes. It’s been over for a long time.” Is that your baby? “That is absolutely not true.”

Two weeks earlier, he had been photographed at the Beverly Hills Hilton holding Quinn. But in the interview, he claimed no knowledge of who the baby was or where the photo had come from.

The short affair happened when his wife’s cancer was in remission, he said, and was the result of narcissism and the conflicts that come from rising so high after growing up as a small-town boy with humble roots.

Mr. Edwards, whose wife died in 2010, watched himself assert repeatedly that he never spent money supporting his former mistress and her child.

“If the allegation is that somehow I participated in the payment of money, that is a lie,” he said. He said he would take a paternity test if asked.

“One of the purposes of this interview, Bob, is to tell the truth,” he said.

As the video ran, Mr. Edwards’s reaction was muted. He closed his eyes now and again, and sometimes touched his fingertips to his lips. When it was over and court was adjourned, his lawyer clapped him on the shoulder. Mr. Edwards laughed.

He and his defense team appear confident that he will not be convicted, and that he will escape up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.

At the close of court on Wednesday, with the prosecution nearing the end of its case, Mr. Edwards turned to the head of his defense team, Abbe Lowell, and said, “This is their case?”

On Friday, his lawyers will ask Judge Catherine C. Eagles to dismiss the charges, claiming the government has not presented a strong enough case against him to go to the jury.

If she denies their motion, Mr. Edwards’s defense will begin Monday. Whether Mr. Edwards will testify in his own defense remains unclear.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


John Edwards gambles on NC jury to avoid prison

April 11, 2012

Associated Press on April 10, 2012 released the following:

“By MICHAEL BIESECKER, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — As a young personal injury lawyer in North Carolina, John Edwards earned a reputation for turning down multimillion-dollar settlement offers on bets that jurors would award his clients more money at the end of a trial.

“The twelve souls who spend full days, full weeks, or sometimes long months sitting only a few feet from you get to know you almost as well as you know yourself,” Edwards wrote in “Four Trials,” his 2003 autobiography. “They take in every movement, fact, word, hesitation, and glance. My faith in the wisdom of ordinary people took root in the mill towns of my youth. But the juries of my adulthood deepened that faith.”

Now the former U.S. senator and two-time Democratic presidential candidate is making the biggest courtroom gamble of his life — that a jury will clear him of alleged campaign finance violations and keep him from being sent to prison.

Jury selection for Edwards’ criminal trial is set to begin Thursday in the Middle District of North Carolina. The sprawling 24-county federal judicial district includes the town where he grew up, Robbins, as well as dozens of other small communities where old textile mills now sit idle but evangelical churches are routinely full.

U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Eagles, who was appointed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, will preside. She said she expects the proceedings to last about six weeks.

Edwards, who declined an interview request through his lawyers, was indicted by a federal grand jury last year on six felony and misdemeanor counts related to nearly $1 million secretly provided by wealthy campaign donors to help hide his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, as he sought the White House in 2008. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and as much as $1.5 million in fines.

Before his indictment, Edwards rejected a potential plea agreement with federal prosecutors that would have allowed him to serve as little as six months and keep his law license, according to two people with direct knowledge of the offer. More than a year after his wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer, Edwards is now a single parent of two children, ages 13 and 11, who live with their father at the family’s gated estate outside Chapel Hill. Eldest daughter Cate Edwards, 30, is a lawyer who married last year.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina law school, John Edwards made his fortune handling medical malpractice and corporate negligence cases before turning to politics following the death of his 16-year-old son Wade in a 1996 auto accident. Edwards was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1998 and was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004. His law license has been listed as inactive for more than a decade.

For his part, Edwards has said he is looking forward to getting back in front of a jury, even though he’ll be the one at the defense table.

“After all these years, I finally get my day in court and people get to hear my side of this, and what actually happened,” Edwards said on the steps of the federal courthouse in Greensboro following a pretrial hearing in October. “And what I know with complete and absolute certainty is I didn’t violate campaign laws and I never for a second believed I was violating campaign laws.”

Regardless of the outcome, the coming trial in USA v. Johnny Reid Edwards is sure to set legal precedents for what constitutes a campaign donation under federal law.

A key issue will be whether Edwards knew about the payments made on his behalf by his national campaign finance chairman, the late Texas lawyer Fred Baron, and campaign donor Rachel “Bunny” Mellon, an heiress and socialite who is now 101 years old. Both had already given Edwards’ campaign the maximum $2,300 individual contribution allowed by federal law.

Edwards denies having known about the money, which paid for private jets, luxury hotels and Hunter’s medical care. Prosecutors will seek to prove he sought and directed the payments to cover up his affair, protect his public image as a “family man” and keep his presidential hopes viable.

Defense attorneys and prosecutors declined to comment about likely trial issues. But hundreds of pages of pre-trial motions and hours of oral arguments in recent months offer insights into their likely strategies.

Abbe Lowell, Edwards’ lead lawyer, contends that even had Edwards known about the secret payments, his actions wouldn’t amount to a crime under federal law because his motivation was keeping his wife from learning of the affair, not influencing the outcome of an election. Lowell has said in court that the government’s case relies on flawed legal reasoning, that the grand jury process was tainted and that the Republican federal prosecutor who led the investigation, now-congressional candidate George Holding, was motivated by partisanship.

Lowell has derided what he calls the government’s “crazy” interpretation of federal law whereby money that was never handled by the candidate nor deposited in a campaign account is being defined as campaign contributions.

The Federal Election Commission reviewed Edwards’ case and declined to seek charges or issue a fine. The defense is likely to call two former FEC commissioners as expert witnesses.

Edwards’ legal position is also supported in a court brief filed by the Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a campaign finance watchdog group.

“In the United States, we don’t prosecute people for being loathsome, we prosecute them for violating the law,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan said this week. “The real reason for these payments is obvious: To prevent Mr. Edwards’ cancer-stricken wife from finding out about the affair. This makes him despicable, but not a criminal.”

Much of the money at issue was funneled to Andrew Young, a former campaign aide once so close to Edwards that Andrews initially claimed paternity of his boss’s illegitimate child. Young and his wife invited the pregnant Hunter to live in their home near Chapel Hill and later embarked with her on a cross-country odyssey as they sought to elude tabloid reporters trying to expose the candidate’s extramarital affair.

Young later fell out with Edwards and wrote an unflattering tell-all book, “The Politician.” Young and Hunter recently ended a two-year legal battle over ownership of a sex tape the mistress recorded with Edwards during the campaign, agreeing to a settlement that dictates that copies of the video will be destroyed.

Young is expected to be a witness for the prosecution, while the defense is likely to call Hunter to testify. Two of the lawyers who represented Hunter in her civil suit against the former aide joined Edwards’ legal team last month. After years of adamant public denials, Edwards acknowledged paternity of Hunter’s daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in 2010. The girl, now 4, lives with her mother in Charlotte.

It has not yet been decided whether Edwards, who was once known for his ability to charm jurors, will testify in his own defense.

But if he does take the witness stand, the case could hinge on which admitted liar the jury chooses to believe — Edwards, who appeared on national television to deny having an affair with Hunter and fathering her child, or Young, who claimed in a written statement that the baby was his.

“Juries seek the truth, and even as a (law) clerk I learned that neither silver-tongued cunning nor hapless bungling will find it for them,” Edwards wrote in “Four Trials.” ”So the best lawyer must be honest and in a way plain in answering any doubts or confusions, and you must know the facts — all of them — for otherwise the jury will lose faith in you. As it should.””

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Be Careful

Federal Crimes – Be Proactive

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


John Edwards has life-threatening medical condition, judge says

January 13, 2012

Politico on January 13, 2012 released the following:

“By MACKENZIE WEINGER

John Edwards has a life-threatening heart condition that requires surgery and his trial has been delayed, according to reports Friday.

In Greensboro, N.C., U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles revealed that two cardiologists wrote to her that the former presidential contender and senator has a medical procedure scheduled next month and starting his trial on Jan. 30 would “reduce the chance for success,” WRAL reported. The doctors said Edwards is currently on medication for the heart condition, the details of which weren’t discussed.

His attorneys wanted Edwards to have a 60-day extension to his case. Eagles said the earliest the trial could begin was March 26, according to WRAL.

Eagles held a brief closed-door meeting Friday before granting the delay request, saying “real and serious health issues” were on the line, WRAL reported.

Court documents about Edwards medical condition have been sealed.

Edwards is accused of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and using about $1 million dollars from campaign donors to cover up his affair and child with Rielle Hunter.

He is facing a series of charges related to his alleged involvement in a scheme in which two of his political supporters paid about $925,000 of Hunter’s expenses. At the time, she was pregnant with Edwards’s child.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys Videos:

Federal Crimes – Federal Indictment

————————————————————–

To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.


Hearing set in John Edwards’ criminal case

January 13, 2012

Click2Houston.com on January 13, 2012 released the following:

“Edwards charged with conspiracy, violating campaign contribution laws

Author: By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) –
Attorneys and a federal judge are expected to meet in a North Carolina courtroom Friday afternoon for a status hearing regarding the pending criminal trial of John Edwards, the former presidential candidate and U.S. senator.

The hearing comes after attorneys on both sides filed several motions, many of them sealed from the public.

In December, attorneys for Edwards asked again to delay his criminal trial, saying Edwards had an unspecified medical issue.

Last year, the Justice Department charged Edwards with conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws. He has pleaded not guilty.

Last September, the trial was delayed until January 30 after Edwards’ attorneys said he needed more time, in part due to his position as the sole caretaker of his two youngest children, ages 11 and 13, after his wife, Elizabeth, passed away in December 2010.

The motion to continue the trial for 60 days filed on December 22 said Edwards’ “unexpected” medical issue is explained in a sealed exhibit. The issue will “prevent a trial of this matter during the January 2012 criminal term,” according to the motion, and cannot be resolved before the end of the term.

Attorneys for Edwards, who was the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 2004 alongside John Kerry, also say in the motion a January trial would not give them enough time to prepare, especially given the “unusual and complex” prosecution.

“Since this trial date was set, the government has produced as part of the discovery process an additional 103,102 pages of material including more than 91,000 e-mails as well as 26 voice mails received by cooperating witnesses between 2007 and 2010,” the motion says. In addition, both the government and Edwards are seeking evidence from North Carolina state courts.

“Absent a continuance, Mr. Edwards’ counsel will not be able to effectively use the evidence the government was obligated to provide him … and this, in turn, threatens Mr. Edwards’ right to effective counsel and a fair trial,” according to the motion.

“This is not hyperbole. Mr. Edwards’ counsel are experienced trial lawyers and they are and have been working hard — long hours, late nights and weekends — and they have not made it their practice to seek unwarranted continuances.”

It is unclear if a decision has been made on whether the trial has been delayed.

A chief issue in the upcoming trial is whether money given to support Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, by the then-candidate’s benefactors should have been considered campaign donations, a contention Edwards’ team has disputed. They maintain the money was a gift to Hunter.

If convicted on all counts, Edwards could face 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.”

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To find additional federal criminal news, please read Federal Crimes Watch Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition and OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.